Climate Change is Happening in the West.

Every day, the West is more endangered. The reality of climate change is no longer a worry of the future. The impacts are here now, and communities in the Interior West are facing increasingly harsh conditions as a result.

There is no time to wait . . .

Climate change is a threat multiplier. Every conservation issue is exacerbated by the impact of a warming climate and the outlook for the natural world made more dire. Undoubtedly, we must change.

While each community is unique in terms of its strengths and vulnerabilities to climate-related impacts, the West is especially vulnerable. We are already living with an ongoing megadrought, catastrophic wildfires, dangerous heat waves, flooding, and worsening air pollution.

The future can feel bleak, but there is much we can do when we work together. To find the right solutions, though, we need to first understand the problems. Learn more about the impacts of climate change from our experts.

Top Threats to the West


Our rivers are endangered and out-of-balance.

The West’s population is growing, while the amount of water in our rivers has diminished by almost 20% over the past 20 years. With further declines on the horizon, we need better ways to balance the demands of our communities, rivers, and wildlife habitat.

US Drought Monitor (Source:
bird on a stick

Habitat loss is the primary threat to the survival of wildlife.

Rapid loss and degradation of wildlife habitat, exacerbated by climate change, is causing a global extinction crisis threatening the places and wildlife we love in the Interior West. We are losing one football-field worth of natural lands to development every 2.5 minutes, due to oil and gas development and suburban and ex-urban sprawl.

habitat-loss map
Ecological regions of the Interior West. Source: US EPA

Catastrophic wildfires have devastating effects on our communities.

Each year, more catastrophic blazes — unnaturally high-intensity fires — continue to break out across our region, creating impacts that range far beyond their burn scars and damage to communities. Fires of this nature continue to increase in number, size, and intensity. The probability of devastating wildfires in places like the Western U.S. are likely to increase.

wildfire map
Wildfire risk levels in August 2022. Source: NOAA

Climate pollution is impacting our communities.

The impacts of carbon emissions have plagued communities across the West for decades. Living in the region has unfortunately come to mean living with climate pollution that threatens our health, our economy, and our environment. Climate pollution drives temperature increases, catastrophic wildfires and flooding and has made our communities and the people who live there more vulnerable. Climate pollution also creates conditions which increase the risk of unhealthy ozone levels in major urban areas around the West have been on the rise, and science tells us that exposure, even at relatively low levels, seriously compromises our health.

Urban centers result in more significant air pollution.

What will happen if we don’t take climate action today?

Hazardous Air Quality

If we do not reduce deadly levels of ozone and pollution for the 60% of the population in the Interior West living in areas at risk as soon as possible, we will continue to see premature death and disease amongst our most vulnerable populations.

Dry Rivers

If we do not drastically reduce our water demand by 25% and protect the Colorado River, we will see flows diminish by another 30% by 2050. 

Devastating Local Impacts

If we do not reduce carbon emissions by 51% by 2030, Western communities will continue to suffer even greater warming and additional devastating impacts of climate change. 


Proven solutions for an urgent climate crisis.

Every day we wait, the West is more endangered. You can help fight the climate crisis. Will you join us?

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Western Resource Advocates