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The Skies Are About to Open Up in Florida

On extreme rainfall, tailpipe rules, and giant viruses

The Skies Are About to Open Up in Florida
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Current conditions: Floods washed away roads in Austria • Thousands of dead fish are littering the shores of a lagoon in drought-stricken Mexico • A heat advisory is in effect for Cupertino, California, where Apple is hosting its Worldwide Developers Conference this week.


1. Florida braces for severe rainfall

Florida is in for some very wild weather this week as tropical downpours bring huge amounts of rain and potential flood conditions. About 12 inches of rain is forecast to fall in Southwest Florida starting tomorrow and continuing throughout the week, but AccuWeather says some areas could see an incredible 22 inches. The Sunshine State has experienced drought conditions this spring. Fort Myers, for example, has seen just 15 inches of rainfall since the start of the year. So some precipitation is welcome, but the amount expected this week can quickly trigger floods.


2. DOT finalizes new, watered-down tailpipe emissions standards

In case you missed it: The Department of Transportation finalized new tailpipe emissions rules for passenger vehicles on Friday, part of its push to encourage car manufacturers toward making more electric and hybrid vehicles. The new fuel economy standards will mean that, by 2031, light-duty vehicles must average about 50 mpg. That’s up from the current average of about 39 mpg, but less ambitious than the Biden administration’s initial proposal. The final standards for lighter SUVs, pickups, and minivans, as well as heavy-duty pickups and vans, were also watered down. According toPolitico, the standards in the original proposal would have reduced carbon dioxide emissions by an additional 200 million metric tons through 2050 compared to the standards announced on Friday.

3. 1.5 billion people endured extreme heat already this year

As we approach the summer equinox in the northern hemisphere, it’s a good time to pause and reflect on the extreme heat events that have already plagued so many people across the world this year. In the first five months of 2024, more than 1.5 billion people experienced at least one day where the heat index reached the life-threatening temperature of 103 degrees Fahrenheit, according to analysis from The Washington Post. That’s nearly one-fifth of the entire human population on Earth. Climatologist and weather historian Maximiliano Herrera estimates that about 100 countries or territories have broken heat records so far in June. Right now a heat wave is baking some states in the southwest, Northern China is bracing for temperatures over 104 degrees Fahrenheit, and India is enduring its longest heat wave ever.

4. Green parties among ‘biggest losers’ in EU parliament elections

Early results from the European parliament elections that took place over the last few days show right-wing parties making gains and green parties sitting among the “biggest losers.” Obviously this shift could have implications for EU climate law: The bloc has a number of ambitious clean energy and emissions targets in line for 2030, but many green policies (including a planned 2035 phase-out of new gas-powered vehicles) are up for review soon and “a more climate-skeptical EU parliament could attempt to add loopholes to weaken those laws,” explainedReuters. The parliament will also help outline new 2040 emissions targets for EU countries, and “that goal will set the course for a future wave of policies to curb emissions in the 2030s in every sector, from farming, to manufacturing, to transport.” Still, the tone remains pretty optimistic. Environment and climate ministers seem to feel that while new climate measures may be hard to sell, backtracking on existing regulations is unlikely.

5. Researchers suggest ‘giant viruses’ could help slow melting on Greenland ice sheet

Scientists say they’ve discovered signs that giant viruses are living on the Greenland ice sheet, and believe these viruses might be able to help slow melting in the region. The findings are preliminary, and many unanswered questions remain, but the theory is that these viruses – which can run 1,500 times larger than regular viruses – attack a type of algae that turns the Greenland ice and snow black. The darker the ice, the more heat it absorbs, and the faster it melts. If the scientists can prove the viruses attack the algae, perhaps they could be deployed to help control the algae and keep the snow and ice white. It’s a sort of “natural” form of geoengineering, I suppose. It may seem far-fetched, but then again so does brightening the clouds and pumping saltwater onto the Arctic sea ice to re-freeze it. Desperate times, eh?


“It does feel a little apocalyptic. You remember the days when you could have olive oil.” –28-year-old Joe Shaw talks to The Wall Street Journal about how extreme weather is hiking the price of “the finer things in life.”

Jessica  Hullinger profile image

Jessica Hullinger

Jessica Hullinger is a freelance writer and editor who likes to think deeply about climate science and sustainability. She previously served as Global Deputy Editor for The Week, and her writing has been featured in publications including Fast Company, Popular Science, and Fortune. Jessica is originally from Indiana but lives in London.


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Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

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