There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that vegetation mortality during drought or periods of high temperatures is rising across the globe. Research regarding the mechanisms of vegetation mortality has grown dramatically in the last five years, as has research on the consequences of mortality on climate forcing. This new research has also stimulated valuable debate regarding how universal or variable mortality mechanisms may be globally, and how much feedback there is upon climate. Resolving these questions is essential for improving global climate models due to the inherent land-climate feedbacks. I will review the evidence for the variety of hypothesized mechanisms of death and the subsequent potential climate forcing. I will conclude by outlining a vision towards resolving these scientific questions, with the ultimate goals of improving our understanding and modeling of climate-terrestrial impacts and feedbacks.