Walter Johnson is a fifth-generation Coloradan whose great-great-grandfather came to the Centennial State on horseback. He says there’s a slight divide between his ancestors who walked to Colorado and those who came by train.
Those who walked became farmers, ranchers, and builders; those who came by train became judges, lawyers, newspaper publishers, and retailers. Walter Johnson took a third way: after graduating from the Colorado School of Mines in 1966, he became a geophysicist and has published over 20 papers on shear-wave seismology, inversion, and detection techniques.
Now, after 50 years of “talking to rocks,” as he puts it, Walt Johnson has embarked on a new career: documentarian. Johnson took a six-figure withdrawal from his retirement account to fund A Climate Conversation, a one-hour film he produced with Denver-based filmmaker Colton Moyer.
Some who have seen the film describe it as a labor of love, but that’s not quite right. It’s a labor of science borne of love. Love for Colorado, for the U.S., and for the generations to come.
Johnson financed his college education by working for the U.S. Forest Service, mapping access roads in the San Juan National Forest. His career has given him a deep understanding of earth science from the Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico. He knew what he was reading about forest fires, polar bears, and global warming did not match reality, and he determined “to do something about it.”
The result is A Climate Conversation, and the title is apt. Moyer adapted Johson’s original script for the film into a Socratic exploration of climate change. Johnson tapped popular radio host Kim Monson, of The Kim Monson Show, as interlocutor. Monson asks the core questions, from “Is the earth warming, and why has it become political?” to “What is the history of the earth’s temperature and CO2 levels?” and “What is the cost to go carbon-free?”
Answers to these and other key questions are provided by Johnson and an “A-Team” of scientists and thought leaders: Gregory Wrightstone, Executive Director of the CO2 Coalition and an Expert Reviewer of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; Ken Gregory, Professional Engineer and Geoscientist and Director of Calgary-based Friends of Science; and Ron Stein, founder of PTS Advance, and author of three books on issues surrounding “clean” energy.
Unassuming and avuncular, Johnson is not your typical Hollywood mogul. “I have now sunk almost $200,000 into this project. This is a lot for a pretty average guy, except that if we have a totalitarian society, retirement accounts will go out the window,” Johnson says.
Johnson, a lifelong scientist, makes for a remarkable contrast with the darling of the climate alarmists, 20-year-old recent high school graduate Greta Thunberg. One is very young, the other in his 70s. One is theatrical and emotional, the other quiet and soft-spoken. One leads a “strike school” movement, and the other has been a director of scientific societies with thousands of members.
As opposite as they are, the two have one thing in common: both are passionate about future generations. In her famously dramatic oration at the United Nations in 2019, Thunberg said, “The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you.”
Climate change is real, and its costs are not zero. Climate policy is also real, and some proposed solutions come with staggering costs. Wise policy lies somewhere in the middle, and leadership is desperately needed to move us toward a more balanced approach. What we decide will undoubtedly impact the lives and lifestyles of generations to come.
A Climate Conversation is an important film and an essential step in the right direction. The film will debut on Newsmax on the weekend of October 14th. A special sneak preview, including a panel conversation with the filmmakers, on-screen experts, and James Taylor, President of The Heartland Institute, will be screened at Rockley’s Event Center in Lakewood, Colorado on September 28th. Tickets to the screening are available to the public and can be purchased from the film’s website.
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