The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight: The Fate of the World and What We Can Do Before It's Too Late
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The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight: The Fate of the World and What We Can Do Before It's Too Late

4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  961 ratings  ·  113 reviews
Book: The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight: The Fate of the World and What We Can Do Before It's Too Late (Revised and Updated)Author: Hartmann, Thom
Paperback, Revised Edition, 400 pages
Published April 27th 2004 by Broadway Books (first published 1998)
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Liz
Though updated with statistics and events through 2004, this reads like a prophetic treatise on the collapse of our industrialized culture which is entirely based on fossil fuels, a limited resource. No one seems to deny that oil is limited, but 2 narratives determine our actions today: Older and younger cultural beliefs. Older cultures valued generosity, leisure, and community. The younger cultures value productivity, accumulation and individualism. He gives many examples to illustrate his poin...more
Michele
Jun 19, 2008 Michele marked it as to-read
Saw this author in the DVD "11th Hour." He discusses the difference between living on "current sunlight" and "ancient sunlight."

Current sunlight is the energy we are currently receiving each day from the sun to our food source, etc. Most of our human history involved living with "current sunlight."

Since the Industrial Revolution, we have used "ancient sunlight. Ancient sunlight is the energy stored in the earth from fossil fuels, etc. Ancient sunlight is not an unlimited resource and has suppor...more
Justin
As of September 2008 we’ve officially entered the end of the oil age. Our economic system based on infinite growth has run into the limits of the physical world. Now that our social systems must rapidly adapt to a new reality of energy scarcity, we must pay special attention to the humans within those systems. Thom Hartmann’s Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight is a particularly lucid roadmap to a new social order by focusing on the actions an individual can take in the context of our ecological cris...more
Fenix Rose
A very easy to read book yet thought provoking book.
Our society is built on teh use of ancient sunlight, we fight wars over it, since it is a limited resource. The civilizations before us did the same and in the end collapsed because they forgot something vitally important....the we are part of nature and it is part of us.
There is no pyramid where we are at teh top..just circles within circles intertwining in more ways then we can understand fully.
This book delves into the past, the far past whe...more
Patricia
The first third of this book outlines all the problems we've got going on, on this planet. Since this book was published originally in 1998, it covered ground I was pretty familiar with. No solutions were offered, though. Then, there was a section about culture and then a third section. Hartman is fond of "Old Way" thinking, characterizing modern society as "Young Way" thinking. According to him, primitive cultures had it going on. But what to do about the fact that we don't live in primitive cu...more
Kim
I was so irritated with certain of the author's premises that I found myself arguing as much as reading. But then it is good to read things that you don't agree with - it offers the opportunity to learn something new. I learned a different way of looking at the "Older Cultures" - that is the tribal cultures. I learned a very interesting method of sustainable farming used in the Amazon by (I think) the Kayapo tribe. I really give the author credit for realizing that no specific measures can save...more
Will
This is a half-baked treatise that uses global warming and peak oil as a rationale for "spiritual" living. Actual science and studies are thin on the ground.

I really should have guessed that something was up when looking at the recommendations: they are from the authors of "The Crack in the Cosmic Egg", "Conversations with God", "Conscious Evolution", "The Shaman's Doorway", "A Deep Breath of Life" and "Voice of the Planet". I read to the point where he started talking about the indoctrinating...more
Kathleen
Thom Hartmann is an amazing surge of energy on the planet! He's a radio host, author and I don't know what else yet, but I was recently introduced to him by a good friend and bought this book to see if he was all he was cracked up to be. Well, this book is amazing; so much so that I bought another, "Cracking the Code," which I haven't started yet.
John P.
I'm impressed. I read this primarily as a theologian; I'm fascinated by the notion that "original sin" could stem from the moment 40.000 years ago when some tribe decided it was imperative to take more than it needed. I stumbled into Thom Hartman through an amazing movie, a documentary called "I Am". Also excellent.
Matt Jacques
Cold, depressing assessment of our planet's current energy situation and what lead up to it. Enjoyed the concept of all energy being light transformed, with the distinction between current light energy (crops grown, wind blowing, light shining *today*) versus past light energy (fossil fuels etc.) that are stored. Our 'progress', not just over the past 200 or so years, but Hartmann argues since ancient Mesopotamia (Epic of Gilgamesh), has been based off of either stolen light energy (slavery) or...more
Prasad Bsv
one of the finest books combining spirituality and sustainability
Michael Tildsley
4.5 stars

This book is very good at getting you to think in a different way about energy use and consumption in a historic sense. It raises questions about what it means to harvest sunlight, what we are doing to our planet, and what can be done to repair the damages we've already done (and save the lives of the billions on the line when, not if, the current energy bank account goes dry). Great stuff, and very useful research for my current project. Highly recommend even with the feel of a liberal...more
Kurt Gielen
One of the few books I ever read that made me want to throw it away as far as possible because it angered the hell out of me. But since it was on my iPAD, I didn't. The guy has such an annoying way of combining facts that aren't even remotely linked just to prove his point. Like on location 1074:

"While we’re accumulating wealth and consuming resources at this incredible rate, thousands of people die from hunger worldwide every hour."

Yes those two facts are true but are they linked? Would people...more
Hathal
This is interesting! The problem illustrated and the solution proposed in this book, most probably, cannot be understood and implemented respectively by the same people.
So the first part describing the problem in a very rock-solid,scientific way. I can imagine it may strongly appeal to those who are pragmatic in their ways of thinking.
Then comes the next part where you have to meditate, communicate with nature and live a spiritual life where most religious people would like although Mr.Hartman...more
Ladislau
Entenda-se que a Antiga Luz do Sol é o petróleo. O autor começa alertar-nos para o perigo do fim do mesmo. Mas depois vai mais longe e acaba por analisar toda a sociedade moderna e compara-la com as sociedades tribais. A ideia de fundo é que as sociedades tribais são mais felizes porque vivem em comunidade e em equilíbrio com a natureza. (Fez-me lembrar o filme Avatar em que de um lado temos os nativos de Pandora a viver em comunhão com o próprio planeta e por outro os humanos a quererem minerar...more
R.J. Heller


"The Ancients knew something, which we seem to have forgotten."
These words of Albert Einstein are apt in their placement within this book. This is the core of the book, and contains
the true sentiment of what the author was trying to convey, in many if not all aspects of the way we have chosen to live today. With the end of one fuel supply fast approaching (oil), hence the title of this book which I think clever, many other facets of life are discussed in an Older Culture versus Younger Culture...more
Michael
I pretty much inhaled this book (it helped that I had six hours at school watching my children fill out bubbles on standardized tests). Thom Hartmann is a radio host and author; this is the second of his books that I've read. He writes about complex topics with both simplicity and depth, which is no mean feat. I like him: he's smart, passionate, and quite respectful to those who disagree with his positions.

This book is broken into three parts. The first part is a distressing overview of how man...more
Muhammad Moneib
A Thoughtful Search for a Silver Lining amid the Gloomiest Storm

It is quite normal to get deceived when you are ignorant, to get distracted when you are not free, and to become desperate when you can see no hope. These are the three states which Thom Hartmann challenges in his book, calling for an action by every individual to face a problem that undermines the existence of the whole of humanity. It is not yet another book about the environment and the depletion of nature's resources, as it is a...more
Kurt
Ancient sunlight refers to fossil fuels - coal, oil, and natural gas. These fuels are stores of sunlight that fell upon the earth hundreds of millions of years ago over a time period that itself lasted tens or hundreds of millions of years. Beginning only about 150 years ago humans began extracting and burning these fuels at increasingly obscene rates so that we now are threatened with their imminent exhaustion within mere years or at best decades.

The main focus of this book, however, was not (a...more
Erinina Marie
May 31, 2007 Erinina Marie rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight by Thom Hartmann

This book written in 1998 about the state of the environment and our dominant culture is incredibly terrifying in it’s accurate predictions of where and on what time-table our Earth’s resources are running out and what the consequences will be. It’s accuracy makes the continuing predictions that much more terrifying and poignant reading the book today. I recommend this book to anyone who thinks that they can or should simply ignore our hopeless...more
Kathy
From a blog post I wrote in 2005:

Anyone who doesn't believe in global warming or the negative affect we're having on our planet should read this book and see if their belief stays the same. Thom Hartman has clearly done his homework and presents a lot of research.

His main point is that we're quickly using up our 'ancient sunlight' by which he means plantlife, oil, natural gas and coal mostly. The causes for this mass use is attributed to our exponential increase in population and our transition...more
Tina
The first half of the book is quite depressing and describes how dire our environmental problems are. also a lot of his data needed updating. The second half of the book was a wonderful description of younger versus older cultures. I even enjoyed his discussion on politics. I have a renewed interest and respect of tribal culture now. This book is a must read for people who aren't aware of the seriousness of our environmental problems and who needs awakening. I have already woken up but this has...more
MsBrie
This is the first real environmental book I’ve read and it passed my Random Page Test, causing me to sit down for an hour in the bookstore reading it. It was so good I even bought the hard cover edition! From Amazon.com: "Thom Hartman offers a highly persuasive argument for adopting the spiritual values of our ancient ancestors, which means living with a strong connection to the earth as well as the sun that nourishes us all. Nowadays, humans often perceive themselves as separate from nature and...more
jeremy
"think of the earth as a living organism that is being attacked by billions of bacteria whose numbers double every forty years. either the host dies, or the [parasite] dies, or both die." ~gore vidal (as quoted in the book)

this was originally published in 1999, when we had "now reached the halfway point of our supplies of oil." nearly a decade later, most of the book remains as pertinent as when it was written. while thom hartmann is an exceptional writer, there have been, however, many more tho...more
Steve
Right in the title, the author makes a most important point about the way our society is operating. The nature of our crisis is simple: to feed our economy and way of life, we are exhausting a stored reserve of ancient sunlight that took millennia to form. The consequence is both that this supply of easy energy will end and that we are dumping all that stored C02 into the atmosphere where it warms our climate. Hartmann explains all of this, as well as how he thinks our culture got to this perilo...more
Wendy
Read this book if you dare. It will haunt you.

Global warming is the least of our problems. Mankind has had and will continue to have effects on this planet of immense impact. To ignore that and fail to do what is necessary to alter the direction we are going as a species is folly. We fail to comprehend the changes all around us in terms of the using up/pollution of resources necessary to sustain life as we know it. We fail to appreciate the necessity for a sustainable ecosystem including specie...more
Wesley
I highly encourage everyone to read this book by Thom Hartmann. It is clearly (to me at least) a valuable reminder of what we have become and to where we will inevitably lead ourselves if we do not straighten out our act. From racism to consumerism to spiritualism to co-operatism, he reveals the currently self-absorbed tendencies of the human race as it is being born out by the "First World" nations. Younger Culture is losing validity or has already lost validity and the only way to change the t...more
Nathan
Aug 11, 2007 Nathan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone who breathes.
This is perhaps the most important book our culture may ever have the chance to read. Even if you walk away already having known the facts presented within (very unlikely), the call to seeing the fundamental reason behind the plight we currently find ourselves in is the core of this book. I don't believe you can effectively have any position on global warming or world hunger without seeing things as they truly stand, and this is the very first book I have read that has provided that viewpoint. I...more
suebeeinaz
Hartmann's call to action regarding our dwindling natural resources and the destruction of planet earth is emphasized in his comparison of old and young cultures. He urges us to think about what we are losing in our consumerist society -- our connection to nature and to each other. There were long preachy diatribes, but the end of the book was worth slogging through. His message that our personal health is tied to environmental and cultural strength was worth the read. If you can get through the...more
Carolin Atchison
With the on-going economic crisis, the environment is not exactly high on everyone's mind. So here is a little reminder from the introduction of this excellent book: "In the 24 hours since this time yesterday, over 200,000 acres of rainforest have been setroyed in our world. Fully 13 million tons of toxic chemicals have been released into our environment. Over 45,000 people have died of starvation, 38,000 children. ..." Hartman not only describes the serious trouble we're in, but also how we got...more
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Thom Hartmann is a progressive radio talk show host, author, and retired businessman who was born and grew up in Michigan.

His daily progressive radio talk show is syndicated and distributed to radio and television stations nationwide and in Europe and Africa.

Thom has spent much of his life working with and for the International Salem relief organization. In 1979 Hartmann and his wife Louise founde...more
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“And so we see people who are spiritually disconnected, living in boxes and driving in boxes, perhaps once a year going "out to nature" to get a small touch of what was once the daily experience of humans. These people seek escape. They sit in urban and suburban homes and feel miserable, not knowing why, experiencing anxiety and fear and pain that cannot be softened by drugs or TV or therapy because they are afflicted with a sickness of the soul, not of the mind.” 1 likes
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