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 feature documentary movie The Eleventh Hour and soon to be released HBO special Ice on Fire, Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight details what is happening to our planet, the reasons for our culture’s blind behavior, and how we can fix the problem. Thom Hartmann’s comprehensive book is one of the fundamental handbooks of the environmental activist movement. Now with fresh, updated material on our Earth’s rapid climate change and a focus on political activism and its effect on corporate behavior, The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight helps us understand – and heal – our relationship to the world, to each other, and to our natural resources.
In a well-intentioned but soggy New Age manifesto, Hartmann (The Prophet's Way) calls for a spiritual ecology to stave off impending ecological collapse. (The title refers not only to waning or forgotten ancient wisdom but also to dwindling fossil-fuel supplies.) In an informal, disjointed style, Hartmann surveys the crises we face: the decimation of the rain forests, mass extinctions of plant and animal species, global warming exacerbated by industrial emissions, famines and the threat of new epidemics. But his sweeping view of history veers into retrograde romantic fantasy. In his simplistic framework, "younger" cultures" (i.e., Sumer, classical Greece and Rome, the modern West) are hierarchical, claim resources through trade and conquest, wage genocidal warfare and foster domination and control over both nature and other peoples. "Older" cultures (i.e., such tribal peoples as Native Americans, the Ik of Uganda or the Kayapo of Brazil), he maintains, are sustainable, more egalitarian, live in intimate connection with the natural world and grant women and men roughly equal status. To prevent planetary doom, he argues, we should adopt some of the older cultures' lessons, such as practicing small acts of goodness, meditating or joining a small "tribal" community sharing land ownership and a common purpose. Bereft of original ideas, this tract (originally self-published in 1998 under the Mythical Books imprint) preaches to the converted and lacks either the political specifics or the spiritual focus its weighty scope demands. Author tour.