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Sebastian Copeland

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[…]

Americans, Copeland says, have become complacement.

Question: Is American culture inherently wasteful?

Copeland: Well I wouldn’t say that American culture is uniquely inherently wasteful. I would say that an industrial and a developing society is inherently wasteful. I think that the minute we depart from a sustainable and holistic culture or cultural attitude, we . . . and we progress towards an attitude of development, there has been, it would seem, a necessary stage of wastefulness – one which again defines an immaturity with respect to that particular stage. America has thrived through the age of industry, and through the industrial revolution better than most other societies; and has expended with a wealth of potential in a very vast land, and a very wealthy land, and a seeming sense that we are unaccountable to it. In other words it’s a lot easier to be conscious of your surroundings if you live in a limited space than if you do in an expensive space. Because if you live in an expensive environment, there’s always a sense that if you pollute it you can always move to another place and nobody will see it. So the pioneering spirit of . . . of America has not been so conducive to giving Americans a sense of responsibility. But America in many ways represents the best potential, and has represented a tremendous potential for growth, at least through this . . . up until this stage that we are now. Unfortunately I think as we see with any civilizations, any societies, and any cultures – given too much power, that power tends to corrupt and ultimately tends to make people complacent, because invariably wealth generates greed and complacence. And I think America has been tremendous in its creativity and its ability to advance all sorts of technologies and all modes of communication, and advancement in science and whatnot. But I also feel that in succeeding in, you know, the end of the Cold War; and in being sort of heralded economically; and as a power nation a position of supremacy, I think that America has become complacent. Recorded on: 12/3/07