please have a look at this little video. it's called 'the story of stuff' and it is an excellent summary of the whole consumerism, global economy thing and its inherent problems. the presenter talks to you a bit like a primary school teacher, but it's worth watching anyway (cool animation graphics).
here is the first part (5 minutes). the whole thing is 20 minutes long and you can watch it at www.storyofstuff.com