Severe heat throughout the summer season is taking a toll on human health, according to the report. Extreme heat can cause heart, lung and kidney problems, especially among the poor, sick and elderly. The report predicts that the number of days where temperatures top 100 degrees will increase.

If emissions continue to rise, temperatures on the very hottest days during the last 20 years of this century may be 10 degrees to 15 degrees hotter across most of the country, the report finds.

While the new report paints dire conditions for most of the Southwest in the years ahead, many of the authors of the assessment say they believe it is not too late to make effective changes. While conditions are likely to continue toward a drier, hotter Southwest, many believe technology, recovery efforts and climate awareness will provide many answers that could help lessen the footprint of adverse climate developments.

New water sources and processes, better seed and plant genetics, and more efficient machinery can help offset some of the negative impacts of climate change.

The report highlights examples of changes that state and local governments can make to become more resilient. One of the main takeaways, said David Wolfe, a professor of plant and soil ecology at Cornell University and a co-author of the report, is that the new climate assessment report may signal a new awareness of the seriousness of the issue. He says it is time to "move beyond the debate about whether climate change is real or not and really get down to rolling up our sleeves."