Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight: The Fate of the World and What We Can Do Before It's Too Late” as Want to Read:
The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight: The Fate of the World and What We Can Do Before It's Too Late
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

4.21  ·  Rating Details ·  1,278 Ratings  ·  132 Reviews
While everything appears to be collapsing around us -- ecodamage, genetic engineering, virulent diseases, the end of cheap oil, water shortages, global famine, wars -- we can still do something about it and create a world that will work for us and for our children’s children. The inspiration for Leonardo DiCaprio’s web movie Global Warning, The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlig ...more
Paperback, Revised Edition, 400 pages
Published April 27th 2004 by Broadway Books (first published 1998)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight

The Ecological Rift by John Bellamy FosterThe Systems View of Life by Fritjof CapraKing Solomon's Ring by Konrad LorenzGuns, Germs, and Steel by Jared DiamondThis Changes Everything by Naomi Klein
Best non-fick
23rd out of 82 books — 37 voters
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara KingsolverThe Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanThis Changes Everything by Naomi KleinSilent Spring by Rachel CarsonThe Systems View of Life by Fritjof Capra
best sustainability
222nd out of 225 books — 228 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Mar 28, 2012 Liz rated it it was amazing
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
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
Dec 27, 2009 Justin rated it it was amazing
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
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
John P.
May 28, 2012 John P. rated it really liked it
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.
Annie Chin
Aug 02, 2015 Annie Chin rated it it was amazing
It was such an amazing book to read. This book was required for my AP English summer reading, and when I started it, I immediately thought, "Oh, no. This is one of those annoying books that the school picked out to torture us."

For many that I know, this book was exactly that, but for me, it was a wake-up call. Since California is in such a big drought, I was aware of the problems of insufficient natural resourcea that we are facing worldwide. However, it wasn't until reading this book that I rea
Jan 18, 2009 Kim rated it liked it
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
Erinina Marie
May 31, 2007 Erinina Marie rated it liked it  ·  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
Apr 20, 2011 Will rated it did not like it
Shelves: aborted
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
Daniel Gonçalves
Nov 20, 2015 Daniel Gonçalves rated it liked it
In “The Last Hours of Ancient Light”, progressive political commentator Thom Hartman promises to discuss the human condition, focusing on the insidious effects of Man on the environment.

To accomplish this overwhelming task, he utilizes historical and scientific arguments. However, there are identifiable inaccuracies in some of the information conveyed in the book that mar its credibility, as when he refers to Portuguese as reaching America in 1000 B.C. An expert in Portuguese history would imme
Mar 09, 2014 Kathleen rated it really liked it
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.
Feb 08, 2015 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Very powerful read. Hartmann proposes that the only way things can change is if we change our culture, starting with ourselves. An inspiring and hopeful look at the oil crisis and climate change. He discusses culture at length and provides a vivid history for how we got into the mess we are in now. I learned a lot from this book and hope to make some small but significant changes in my life.
Prasad Bsv
Mar 31, 2013 Prasad Bsv rated it it was amazing
one of the finest books combining spirituality and sustainability
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
Sir Readalot
Oct 09, 2016 Sir Readalot rated it liked it
Overall I found this book disappointing - expectations were high given the Goodreads rating.

There were parts that I found interesting and which I thought were well told, but there were long passages which seemed either a bit incoherent, rambling, or repetitive. If I could give a more detailed rating, I'd award half of the book 2 stars and half 4 stars.

Having read quite a lot about the science of climate change, the opening section of the book seemed particularly incoherent, and it even occurred
Sep 16, 2016 Jenni rated it really liked it
Thom Hartman's well-considered, well-researched book on the vanishing resources of the planet and their impact on climate change left an impression. It is motivating, providing hope where not much remains for this planet.
Apr 24, 2013 Kurt rated it really liked it
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
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
Aug 26, 2012 Ladislau rated it really liked it
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
Jan 20, 2016 Annika rated it really liked it
This is one of the books from this year that I will probably have to read again someday. I read and discussed it, but I honestly don’t remember it as much as I’d like and I’m not sure if it’s because I read it too quickly, or because I’ve already heard these ideas before, or what. I will say that I do know that I appreciated the level of research and scholarship that went into this book. One of my biggest problems with Daniel Quinn’s Story of B, which expressed many of the same ideas, was the la ...more
Kurt Gielen
Mar 04, 2012 Kurt Gielen rated it it was ok
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
Sep 20, 2013 Hathal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Matt Jacques
Apr 07, 2014 Matt Jacques rated it it was amazing
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
R.J. Heller
Jun 27, 2012 R.J. Heller rated it really liked it

"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
Erik Akre
Aug 08, 2015 Erik Akre rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: human-ecology readers who are open to New Age, who love a good story
Wow. Huge book! I barely know to comment on it. Life-changing, moving toward cooperative culture and sustainability, as a matter of survival, individually and communally.

At the time, I felt maybe naively but sincerely that it had permanently changed my view of life, and the future of Earth. Perhaps it did. My favorite part of the book, however, is not its message of challenge and hope to humanity. Rather it is the personal stories or friendship and miracle (for lack of a better word) that form t
Abner Rosenweig
Oct 07, 2015 Abner Rosenweig rated it it was amazing
The first part of The Last Hours is shocking, devastating, and tragic. Even for someone who's fairly literate in the global crisis, it triggers a deep sense of betrayal by and disillusionment from those in power:

>>How can we be so narrow-minded, insidious, and cruel?

>>And, why aren't we collectively aware of these problems and working assiduously to repair them?

Hartmann is one of the few who gets the big picture. Energy, politics, economy, ecology, resources, spirituality, culture--
Steve Bivans
Jan 16, 2015 Steve Bivans rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What will we do when our fossil fuels run out? The picture that Hartmann paints isn't a pretty one, but I'm afraid it's probably accurate. The good news is that we won't have to wait long to find out if he's right. The bad news is that we won't have to wait long to find out if he's right, if he's in fact right, and I think he is.

We are burning up stored sunlight every time we turn on a light in our home, turn the key in the ignition to drive to work, and every time we pick up a bottle of water a
Travis Hartman
Jun 13, 2016 Travis Hartman rated it it was amazing
This book is absolutely wonderful. Not only does it give you a good education about the basics of climate change it also spends a lot of time analyzing the sociological mentality of why we poison our planet and how we continue to lie about it so effectively. He analyzes tribal cultures witch is of great help in understanding climate change especially since we in the west learn very little of it.

I think what I love most about this book is how much he spends talking about the spiritual aspect of t
Nov 15, 2009 MsBrie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 "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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Ecology 1 5 Dec 18, 2008 05:06AM  
  • The Long Descent: A User's Guide to the End of the Industrial Age
  • Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change
  • Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth
  • Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines
  • Climate Wars
  • The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature
  • The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century
  • The Transition Handbook: From oil dependency to local resilience
  • Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World
  • Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Conflict
  • With Speed and Violence: Why Scientists Fear Tipping Points in Climate Change
  • Six Degrees
  • Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization
  • A Language Older Than Words
  • The End of Oil: On the Edge of a Perilous New World
  • Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future
  • Original Wisdom: Stories of an Ancient Way of Knowing
  • My Name is Chellis and I'm in Recovery from Western Civilization
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 about Thom Hartmann...

Share This Book

“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.” 4 likes
More quotes…