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 climate change a passing fad?
Copeland: There’s no question. There’s no question. I mean listen. Environmental awareness has been around since the ‘60s. It’s . . . There were problems in the ‘60s which we still face today in the same way that we did back then. And through the course of that . . . those last 40 years or so, there has been an increase in the intensity and the nature of those concerns. And yet we’ve still seen sway back and forth between a cultural awareness and a media awareness and not. The only thing that perhaps might separate us today than, you know . . . than those past trends that came and went is the increased number and the breadth of those . . . of those natural disasters and the occurrence . . . and those occurrences. And so I think that today it is very difficult to turn a blind eye to an event that may claim dozens if not hundreds of thousands of lives and create millions if not billions of dollars of damages; and thereby really crippling certain types of budgets, and at times certain economies. So I don’t think that the environmental platform, as well as that through the . . . you know the advent of communication, and the, you know . . . and by making good use of communication through, as you were mentioning earlier, those different mediums – whether they be films or books and whatnot – we are penetrating the collective consciousness in a way that is perhaps more proactive, and especially more effective than had been done in the past; as well as that through the exponential demographic growth . . . the explosive demographic growth that we’re experiencing, and with it the claim into the industrial market that . . . that those different . . . that that demographic is creating. We are faced with inescapable realities, and we live in a way that is simply not sustainable . . . not at . . . when you . . . When a population . . . our global population has more than doubled in 50 years, and has more than tripled in 100 years; and when we see that our reliance on, you know . . . on plastics, you know . . . In the U.S. we use 200,000 plastic bags every five seconds. We discard two million plastic bottles every five minutes. When you factor that about two percent of that is recycled, the rest of that is landfill. When you see that our oceans are being over fished, and that our lands are being polluted through heavy metal pollutants, and mercury, and PCBs, POPs – persistent organic pollutants – and what not, we are literally contaminating our waterways; that we are polluting our air, and it’s having an impact not just on the quality of living, but our health in the sense that we are seeing an increase in instances of asthma in children, and all the different activities that are directly being impacted by our . . . by our industrial economy and our consumerism. Then I think it’s very difficult to escape the platform of environmental awareness. And all the while there are no guarantees. I think that through the medium of communication it’s gonna be . . . become more and more apparent that we need to address this issue. And then we can go into debate whether we have a shot at doing it or not. But I don’t think the platform itself is gonna disappear. Recorded on: 12/3/07