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Summer weather and DeSantis’ agenda

As the Northern Hemisphere heads into summer, Florida is already in the crosshairs of what will likely be a season of extremes.

South Florida was hit by storms this week. Some parts fell nearly a foot of rain in just a few hours on Wednesday, causing severe flooding in and around Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Sarasota and other major cities. Just weeks earlier, an early-season heat wave sent heat indices in the same region well into the triple digits. And all this is less ahead of what forecasters say could be an exceptionally active hurricane season.

These extremes have a common denominator: they are all amplified by climate change. That is a reality that is at odds with the politics of the state.

Government of Florida Ron DeSantis has emerged as one of the country’s most outspoken and active politicians in opposing efforts to tackle climate change. Last month, he signed a bill to deprioritize climate change in the state’s energy policy, largely removing the phrase from the statutes.

“We are restoring common sense to our approach to energy and rejecting the agenda of the radical green fanatics,” DeSantis wrote on X promoting the bill.

DeSantis also signed a bill this year that would ban cities and counties from requiring mandatory water breaks and other workplace protections from extreme heat. It goes into effect July 1, leaving workers with little to no protection ahead of what the National Weather Service says will be a warmer-than-normal summer for Florida and much of the rest of the U.S.

Experts say DeSantis’ policies are in stark contrast to climate science. It’s the kind of dissonance that makes it more challenging to protect people and prepare them for the realities of life in a warming world.

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“At every level of government, we have to figure out: How do we adapt our programs, policies and responses to a climate that is rapidly changing and will continue to do so?” said Katharine Mach, professor at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, & Earth Science and chair of the school’s department of environmental science and policy. “Finding all that out is the adjustment of our times.”

DeSantis has also avoided tapping federal money to help states address climate change. Florida is one of only five states to withdraw from a $250 million federal program to help municipalities develop plans to limit greenhouse gas emissions, although Miami, Jacksonville and three other cities were able to receive some funding. DeSantis recently accepted $350 million in federal money for energy efficiency upgrades after initially vetoing them.

Jeremy Redfern, DeSantis’ press secretary, said Florida’s susceptibility to hurricanes and extreme weather events is a result of it being a low-lying coastal state, but he did not specifically address climate change.

“This issue is not new, but a fact of Florida’s geography and topography,” Redfern said in an email. “As such, strengthening and strengthening our beaches, infrastructure and homes is the right focus for the state.”

Climate change remains a highly partisan issue, although there are some signs that Republicans are starting to take it more seriously. Yet what to do about it remains a topic on which Republicans and Democrats differ widely.

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And with the Republican Party backing former President Donald Trump as the presumptive candidate for the November elections, climate change is expected to remain highly politicized. Trump has called climate change a “hoax” and has said he wants to repeal federal laws that provide incentives for electric vehicles and offshore wind power.

DeSantis, who sided with Trump after his failed presidential run, spoke during his campaign last fall about “a concerted effort to ramp up fear on issues like global warming and climate change,” including climate change as part of a broader context. culture war, instead of recognizing global warming as a real threat, critics say.

Ali Zaidi, President Joe Biden’s climate adviser, said many states are falling behind.

“It is simply irresponsible to deny people the measures available to us that will help us protect the American people from the worst impacts of the climate crisis,” he said.

Image: Rainstorms inundate South Florida's floodwaters (Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

Image: Rainstorms inundate South Florida’s floodwaters (Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

The threat to Florida is particularly urgent, with some parts at risk this summer as temperatures and humidity rise.

Hialeah, a suburb of Miami, is one of the places most vulnerable to heat and health impacts in the country, according to a new heat and health index from the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services, which ranks just 0. identified 3% of heat and health effects. other zip codes across the country are likely more vulnerable.

Floridians also face financial challenges. Extreme weather has caused the cost of home insurance to rise sharply, with many insurers leaving the state altogether.

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These kinds of financial setbacks can be political catalysts, says Emma Fisher, deputy director of Climate Cabinet Action, a political action committee that supports climate-focused candidates in down-ballot races.

“Climate change is increasingly having daily and financial consequences for Americans,” Fisher said. “It’s one of those things where when it starts hitting voters in their pocketbooks, it becomes a big deal for voters.”

The US Senate has been investigating whether Florida’s state-backed insurer has enough money to make payouts if hurricanes continue to ravage the state.

DeSantis has also downplayed the role of climate change in intensifying hurricanes.

However, studies have shown that warm sea surface temperatures and a warmer atmosphere can cause storms to increase wind speed and quickly strengthen, especially as they approach land. A warmer atmosphere can also hold more moisture, meaning such storms can dump more rain and cause more damage once they make landfall.

Together, the conditions are being set for what could be a “very scary and very dangerous hurricane season,” said Andrew Pershing, director of climate science at the nonprofit Climate Central.

The recent storms in Florida have increased the sense of urgency among Florida Democrats. Senator Shevrin Jones posted on

Jayden D’Onofrio, chairman of Florida Future Leaders, a Generation Z-led political action committee formed by young Democrats, similarly poked fun at DeSantis, pointing to the recent bill that removes mentions of climate change from state law.

“Now South Florida is experiencing some of the worst flooding it has ever seen,” D’Onofrio wrote on X. “We are ruining our beautiful state because of political maneuvering.”

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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