“This billion-dollar-selling toy was inspired by heat pumps,” written by Mike Munsell for Canary Media and published last week, is the best article I’ve ever seen about what Super Soaker inventor Lonnie Johnson has been up to in that “bigger workshop” that I mentioned at the end of my and Don Tate’s nonfiction picture book Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions (Charlesbridge Publishing, 2016).
Munsell: Shifting gears a bit — as someone who has been working in science and energy for so long, how has climate change influenced your work?
Johnson: Climate change has been my primary motivator. It’s been frustrating that scientists have been aware of the need to address climate change for, geez, many years, going back to the mid-1970s, maybe even sooner. But the politicians and decision-makers have, until now, not seen the need to address the problem. Now it’s beginning to overwhelm us in terms of the weather patterns that we see. And so everybody, all of a sudden, is just starting to do something about it. I’m happy that it’s finally happening. Hopefully, it’s not too late.
Munsell: And that leads me to my next question: As a prolific inventor, someone who has created so much and is still creating, how does that impact your outlook for our future when it comes to climate?
Johnson: Well, we’ll deal with it. When I talk to kids, I tell them that human beings are built to be problem-solvers; it’s what we do best.