Sebastian Copeland is a photographer and environmental activist. Copeland grew up in France and Britain, and graduated from UCLA in 1987 with a major in film. Throughout the 1990’s, Copeland directed commercials – everything from soft drinks to sportswear – as well as music videos. He is also known for his celebrity portraiture; he’s taken pictures of Sandra Bullock, Kate Bosworth, and Orlando Bloom (who is also his cousin), among others. In recent years, Copeland has focused on environmental activism. He serves on the Board of Directors of Global Green USA and recently published Antarctica: The Global Warning
Question: Is business better equipped to address climate change than government?
Copeland: I couldn’t agree with that exactly because the reality is the, you know . . . What’s exciting about today and the challenges that we’re facing is that we literally have to reinvent everything from the ground up. We . . . We came from being a sustainable and holistic society to being . . . at least humankind . . . to being one that is, you know, damaging everything in its path. And yet we have the creativity and the resources, and we’ve already demonstrated that we have the ability to live in a way that is, you know, certainly reducing tremendously our potential carbon footprint; and hopefully and ideally, ultimately to be carbon neutral and to have no carbon . . . no footprint anyhow. But the challenge is the . . . is the development of the technology which can, and in many cases will, be measured in its success – at least its financial success over the course of a pretty long period of time. And because the financial markets have been conditioned to gauge success on relatively short terms – you know short to medium terms – the fact of the matter is that the renewable industry, you know, opportunity for markets is something that will require a fairly long period of time to be . . . you know 15 to 20 years or so. And so as such, without the support of governments in the form of subsidies, and tax breaks, and incentives and whatnot, it’s very difficult to accomplish because if you go to . . . This is human nature – again human nature. But again if you go to an investor, and you ask them . . . okay here is your portfolio, and here’s your potential for you to make money – have a growth of, you know, eight to 10 to 15 percent in energy per year, you know or more. And on the other hand here is a, you know . . . a portfolio of renewable energies and promoting that market, that we’ll see growth in the . . . not even in the teens – in the single digit percentile. Over the course of 10, to 15, to 20 years, it’s evident that everyone, you know, with . . . who is looking to increase their personal wealth will look at this and say well, if I have a conscience, okay maybe I’ll look at this amount in this short term, you know, profit; and this amount for this long term period. And then if you’re like most other people, you may go you know what? I may just put everything into the short term – which may have a detrimental effect on our communities – at least on the environment. So without the engagement of the political end of the spectrum, it’s gonna be very difficult to rely solely on business leaders. Recorded on: 12/3/07