Advertisement
  1. Opinion

Ross Spano is no idiot. But on climate change, he's on a different planet | Editorial

SCOTT KEELER | Times U.S. Rep. Ross Spano, R- Dover, when he served in the Florida House in 2017,
Published Aug. 8

U.S. Rep. Ross Spano's recent comments about climate change were as ridiculous as they were flip, and they are alarming coming from a congressman representing the nation's third-largest state. Tampa Bay is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and it would help if the region's entire congressional delegation is united in acknowledging its causes and pursuing meaningful responses.

Spano, R-Dover, was asked during a weekend interview broadcast on WFLA-Ch. 8's Politics On Your Side whether he believed the climate was changing due to man-made activity. "Uh, I do not. I do not," he replied. "I don't think there's sufficient evidence to show that." He went on to question the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community that man-made climate change is real. "I've also seen reports that it's not true," Spano said. And then he went further, accusing the academic and political communities "worldwide" of pushing "to basically force people to accept that it is true."

"And if you speak out against it," Spano continued, "if you say - 'No, no, let's talk about the facts' - well, you're an idiot, you're stupid."

Spano is an educated lawmaker. He holds a bachelor's degree and a law degree. He was a member of the Florida House before winning election last year to represent U.S. House District 15, which covers eastern Hillsborough, western Polk and southern Lake counties, including Brandon, Plant City and Lakeland.

But these comments are inexcusable. Refusing to act on climate change is bad enough. But denying the cause - then playing the victim - is a disservice to his district and a terrible example. As a low-lying, coastal state, Florida is uniquely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, from extreme weather to flooding from rising seas. Given this region's growth, its agricultural sector and the threat that global warming poses to public health and safety, voters have an expectation that their elected representatives are living in the real world.

Spano tried to inoculate himself as many climate skeptics do by declaring: "I'm not an expert." That's not a free pass for denying the undeniable evidence that the Earth is warming and that man-made activities are making it worse. Spano made his comments just as scientists reported that global temperatures in July matched or possibly broke the warmest in recorded history. 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 (and) that the impacts of climate change are intensifying across the country." As the Tampa Bay Times' Craig Pittman reported, a 2014 report from that same group said that Florida is squarely in the cross-hairs of climate change, and the state 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. A new United Nations report approved Thursday said human-caused climate change and land use practices around the world were combining to make food scarcer and more expensive.

"Let's get into a detailed conversation about it," Spano offered during his interview. Great idea. The congressman should hold town halls across his district to see whether his views fly with those residents he has sworn to represent.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Emmett Till, shown with his mother, Mamie, was murdered in 1955 in Mississippi at age 14.
    Courage is why Emmett Till’s legacy is bulletproof. | Leonard Pitts Jr.
  2. Men and boys pose beneath the body of Lige Daniels, a black man, shortly after he was lynched on August 3, 1920, in Center, Texas.  This scene was turned into a postcard depicting the lynching.  The back reads, "He killed Earl's grandma. She was Florence's mother. Give this to Bud. From Aunt Myrtle." Wikimedia Commons
    Trump faces a constitutional process. Thousands of black men faced hate-filled lawless lynch mobs.
  3. Editorial cartoons for Wednesday CLAY BENNETT  |  Chattanooga Times Free Press
  4. Scott Israel, former Broward County Sheriff speaks during a news conference in September. A Florida Senate official is recommending that the sheriff, suspended over his handling of shootings at a Parkland high school and the Fort Lauderdale airport, should be reinstated. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson) BRYNN ANDERSON  |  AP
    The Florida Senate will vote Wednesday whether to remove or reinstate former Broward Sheriff Scott Israel. Facts, not partisan politics, should be the deciding factors.
  5. An ROTC drill team participates in competition.
    Here’s what readers had to say in Wednesday’s letters to the editor.
  6. On Oct. 17, 2019, White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney arrives to a news conference, in Washington. On Sunday, Oct. 20, on "Fox News Sunday," after acknowledging the Trump administration held up aid to Ukraine in part to prod the nation to investigate the 2016 elections, Mulvaney defended Trump’s decision to hold an international meeting at his own golf club, although the president has now dropped that plan. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File) EVAN VUCCI  |  AP
    Flagrant violations are still wrong, even if made in public. | Catherine Rampell
  7. In this photo released by the White House, President Donald Trump, center right, meets with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, standing left, congressional leadership and others on Oct. 16 in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead via AP) SHEALAH CRAIGHEAD  |  AP
    The House speaker is increasingly is acting almost like a prime minister. | Eugene Robinson
  8.  Andy Marlette -- Pensacola News Journal
  9. Medal of Honor recipient Robert Ingram Navy Medical History; Photo by Nick Del Calzo
    About 50 recipients visit the region this week to share their stories and reaffirm their permanent connections.
  10. The bipartisan Lower Health Care Costs Act would impose price controls on doctors. MICHAEL MCCLOSKEY  |  iStockPhoto
    U.S. Senate legislation aims to prevent surprise bills but actually would hurt doctors and patients, a James Madison Institute policy expert writes.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement