Over the past five years, the western United States endured temperature increases that caused droughts, deadly heat waves, mass death of trees, and insect infestations. Now a new report from the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization demonstrates why: the U.S. West has experienced an average temperature increase that is 70 percent greater than the world as a whole. The warming is directly related to greenhouse gas emissions.

States like California, Montana, Idaho and Colorado are already seeing their crops and livestock die off in record numbers. And the climate report predicts that the situation will only get more dire, even if the government responds immediately by cutting emissions. Droughts will become longer and more intense. Rivers and water reserves will dry up, partly because they are usually replenished with melting snow each year. But if the heat continues to rise, there will be no snow — and therefore no runoff into water reserve areas.

Hotter and Drier — The West's Changed Climate [NRDC via TreeHugger]