Ross Spano complains that climate deniers like him are unfairly labeled as ‘idiots’

In TV interview the congressman says he and his fellow climate skeptics are treated unfairly
U.S. Rep. Ross Spano, seen here in 2017. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
U.S. Rep. Ross Spano, seen here in 2017. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
Published Aug. 6, 2019|Updated Aug. 6, 2019

Amid reports from scientists that the globe just experienced the warmest July in recorded history, a Florida congressman is complaining that it’s wrong for climate skeptics like him to be labeled as idiots.

U.S. Rep. Ross Spano, R-Dover, in a weekend interview broadcast on WFLA-Ch. 8’s Politics On Your Side, said in response to a question from anchor Evan Donovan about climate change that he does not believe it’s caused by manmade activity.

“I do not,” he told Donovan. “I don’t think there’s sufficient evidence to show that.”

Spano, an attorney, admitted that “I’m not an expert” on climate science. He said “a few young ladies” had met with him at the opening of his Brandon office to show him evidence that climate change is real, but “what I’ve seen so far doesn’t prove to me that man has had the influence that some people has said that it has had."

Spano went on to complain about what he perceived as efforts by politicians and scientists to “force people to accept that it is true, And if you speak out against it, and you say no no, let’s talk about this? Well you’re an idiot. You’re stupid."

Spano said he’d rather get into a “detailed conversation” about whether climate change is real, rather than hear someone tell him that the vast majority of climate scientists agree that climate change is real and if he doesn’t agree, “you must be stupid.” He also questioned whether the cost of fixing what he called “man-made climate” would be worth the effort.

Last year, a team of 300 federal scientists released a report that said “the evidence of human-caused climate change is overwhelming and continues to strengthen, that the impacts of climate change are intensifying across the country, and that climate-related threats to Americans’ physical, social, and economic well-being are rising.” The report warned that humans must take action now “to avoid substantial damages to the U.S. economy, environment, and human health and well-being over the coming decades.”

A 2014 report from that same group said that Florida is squarely in the cross-hairs of climate change, and would see impacts not just from rising sea levels and higher temperatures, but also from an increase in toxic algae blooms and mosquito-born diseases.

The trio of women who talked to Spano at his open house were from an organization called Our Climate, a non-profit organization that aims to educate politicians and policy-makers about science-based climate policy solutions, according to one of them, Sarah Mahan. She said when they talked to Spano, “our interaction was relatively neutral and surface level.” His tone was different from the one she saw on the TV interview, she said.

Toward the end of the TV interview, Spano said that “at one point, when I was very young, on the cover of Time magazine, we were headed into a period of global cooling.” Time magazine has never run such a cover. Instead, anonymous activists altered a 2008 Time cover to make it look like one from 1977 that warns about “global cooling.” The actual 2008 cover story headline says, “The Global Warming Survival Guide.”

Spano’s staff did not respond to a request for comment.