China passes U.S. as reigning consumerism champion

America, for years the world’s largest, proudest consumer, has been dethroned. Say hello to China, now the world’s most consumingest nation, according to a recent survey by the Earth Policy Institute. China now beats the U.S. in consumption of four out of five basic commodities, including grain, meat, steel, and coal. The fifth, however — oil — is still no contest (whew!): The U.S. continues to burn triple what China does in order to power, among other things, cars, of which Americans have almost 10 times more than the Chinese. Unfortunately for consumption patriots out there, the details are pretty grim: China leads in coal consumption by some 40 percent. It used more than twice the steel Americans did in 2003. China noshed 64 million tons of meat in 2004 to the U.S.’s 38 million. Add in the fact that China’s 1.3 billion citizens also go through more refrigerators, cell phones, and TVs than do Americans, and this is a dark day indeed.