At Summit LA—a conference featuring almost every type of modern influencer you can imagine, from Jeff Bezos to Shonda Rhimes—Jaden Smith interviewed Al Gore about climate change, the impact of social media, and, as expected, things got interesting.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Smith gushed that Gore has been “like a mentor” to him, catalyzing his interest in the environment. The 20-year-old even joked that to motivate his friends to care, “I scare them as much as I can. I tell them if the skate park floods, you’re going to have to learn to surf.”
Smith’s interest in the climate isn’t new, however. At age 12, the Skate Kitchen actor founded Just Water, an eco-friendly water company whose packaging comes mostly from renewable resources with his mentor and family friend Drew Fitzgerald.
“Al Gore and his work [have] inspired me from a very young age,” Smith went on to say. “I truly, truly owe my entire education on the environment and my passion for the world to this man.”
The conversation was titled “Al Gore and Jaden Smith on New Hope for Solving the Climate Crisis,” and Smith asked many of the questions. The two delved into topics ranging from President Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement to the recent—and incredibly frightening—report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
“If there’s a new president—excuse me for a moment,” Gore stopped, folding his hands into prayer. “A new president can give 30 days’ notice, and we’re back in the Paris Agreement.”
When Smith brought up social media inspiring his generation to take action, the former vice president warned about the dangers of the “stalker economy” where companies collect private data.
“The solution to the climate crisis requires a solution to the democracy crisis,” Gore said. “And the solution to the democracy crisis means new vigorous efforts to create a virtual public square with social media that operates in favor of the meritocracy of ideas and facilitates the kind of learning experience and dialogue that you’ve described while protecting us against Russian bots and the alt-right and all the groups that thrive spreading hate.”