Last night was trash night, the night I put three barrels out on the curb — one with recyclables, one with compostables, and one with rubbish (trash).  As I dragged the can to the curb, I felt some smugness about how empty my rubbish can was.  You see, in Fremont, California, we can put just about anything that’s recyclable in the recycle can.  And if it’s not recyclable but it will rot, we can put it in the “yard waste” can (that means paper towels that don’t have chemicals on them and used kleenex, along with table scraps, etc.).  I really try to follow the four Rs — there are four now:  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot — so there isn’t too much in my rubbish can.

Nonetheless, I still put an awful lot on the curb each week.  I am a part of our economic system, a system based on consumption.  And our economic system is a major cause of the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, which in turn is a major cause of global warming and climate change (other causes include the human-made additions of other gases in the atmosphere).

If you’ve got 20 minutes, watch this video:  “The Story of Stuff.”  If you don’t, come back and watch it when you do.

This video points out the connections between our consumption-based economy and environmental damage.  What it doesn’t say overtly is that all the gathering of resources and processing of resources takes energy.  And we get that energy by burning fossil fuels — which releases CO2 into the atmosphere (and other greenhouse gases).  Thus every time I consume a bottle of soda or a new computer (things I’ve done this month), I’m contributing to both our consumption-based economy and the warming of the globe.

Something needs to change!

Back when the reality of the great recession began, I had high hopes.  I had come to realize that there is a basic connection between our consumption-based economic system and global climate change.  I had hopes that the great recession, caused in large part by the financial system that feed the consumption-based economy, would be seized as an opportunity to build a new economy, not just restart the old economy.  It didn’t happen.

Today, the good people at 350.org (http://350.org) shared a video at vimeo.com (I don’t think I’ll be able to imbed it here, but the url is http://vimeo.com/12772935).  The 16 minutes animated video was created collaboratively, a wonderful choice since the video calls for a new, global, grassroots collaboration to address global warming — since it’s becoming pretty clear that the governments of the major polluters of the world aren’t going to do it without vast political pressure from the people.

“A war on global warming needs to be a war on consumerism,” the movie says.  I agree.  We need a new economic system.

Also today, a Facebook friend shared this 11 minute video on the economic crisis, called “Crises of Capitalism.”

It raises the question, “Is it time to look beyond capitalism towards a new social order that would allow us to live within a system that could be responsible, just, and humane?”  We need a change in our economic system, not just because the current one isn’t responsible, just, or humane.  We need a change in our economic system to one not built on consumption so we slow down (and hopefully eventually reverse) our warming of our planet.

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