Environmental stress factors such as drought, elevated temperature, salinity and rising CO₂ affect plant growth and pose a growing threat to sustainable agriculture. This has become a hot issue due to concerns about the effects of climate change on plant resources, biodiversity and global food security. Plant adaptation to stress involves key changes in the '-omic' architecture. Here, we present an overview of the physiological and molecular programs in stress adaptation focusing on how genes, proteins and metabolites change after individual and multiple environmental stresses. We address the role which '-omics' research, coupled to systems biology approaches, can play in future research on plants seemingly unable to adapt as well as those which can tolerate climatic change.