The book The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight was written by Hartmann. In this book, the term “Ancient Sunlight” is taken to refer to fossils fuels and the phrase “Last Hours” is taken to mean that we will soon drain this source of energy, fossils fuel. He observed that the increase in population growth will outdo the available fossil fuels and hence famine will strike in the world. According to him, the current oil reserve can be consumed within 45 years (Hartman, 2000).
Everything originates with sunlight including us and hence it is vital in our lives as everything that support our live us is fueled by it. In the ancient times when we were in accord with the environment and used sunlight without destroying and dominating the environment, our resources were renewable and the population was stable. This is when we lived peacefully with each other.
The introduction of herding, agriculture and discovery of minerals, mining and smelting metals smelled doom for our environment. As this led to production of more food, more energy and hence increase in population. Increase in population has led to rivalry with the environment to produce more food to cater for the increasing population. This has contributed to destruction of forest as more forest are cleared to create land for agriculture, hence destruction of animal’s habitat and hence extinction of many animal species. People have also killed each other as they fight for cultivation lands.
The culture of today’s world which we variously refer to modernized world is quite different from that of the ancient world when people were considered uncivilized. The people of the ancient world controlled their populations in a peaceful manner and did not engage in extinction of people from other tribes. This is in contrast with people in today’s world where individual’s interest supersede that of their fellow neighbors and citizens. The desires to be wealth and to be more powerful has led to oppressions, human despair and to larger extend to violence which led to killings of innocent citizens. In such kind of a situation, human progress is inhibited and people are bound to remain at the same level of primitive lifestyle (Hartman, 2000).
The city-states are known by their political dominance, have hierarchical power structures, have take up other cultures into their own cultures and hence have lost their true identity and engage in genocides war against other tribes. The primitive tribes are political independent, have egalitarian structure, make good use of renewable resources and respect their own cultures and that of other tribes. They are convinced that their culture is the best of all the others.
It can be said that the problems mankind are facing began when mankind began to discard their primitive way of life what is referred to us civilization. Hence, maintaining our identity either as a family, race, nation or tribe is quite beneficial as diversity sustains continued existence and we are losing it (Hartman, 2000).
It is a fact now that we are living beyond what our sunlight can offer and hence our sources of sunlight are diminishing and are almost exhausted. Yet instead of using the remaining fossil fuels in a conservable way, we keep on exploiting them. This will bring problems to our children if remedial measures are not introduced. This can be attributed to the undeveloped, hazardous reckless attitudes of the younger generation whose aim is to have more power and dictates to those without powers. Hence they end up using huge amount of energy to get wealth and more power which in most cases end up hurting others. Hartman recommend a return to the tribal community, but he does provide tips on how we can return to it. I personally think that a return to the tribal community is not a practical thing as we have moved too far.
The first process towards a rectification of this is personal evaluations. We need to look at ourselves as individuals and see how we contribute to this phenomenon and take corrective measures. We need to see ourselves as contributing to the problem. We should seek to live in harmony with our fellow human beings. We should take what we have now and make good us of it for our benefit and that of our next generation. We only have two options; to continue with our current way of life and hence accelerate the destruction of our environment while staying in denial of our own responsibility and fearing the results or to wake to our senses and begin the process of resolution.
I tend to differ slightly with Hartman on the issue of culture. Hartman attribute all the problems of this world to the younger culture rather than the on people themselves. I personally think that the people have contributed to a larger extend to the problems we are experiencing. The people themselves are the problem not the culture. We only use the as culture as a scapegoat and as long as we continue having this attitude we will never come to an end to this problems. We should feel responsible as individuals to the creation of these problems and hence see the need solve them. Only then will we see the need to change our lifestyle and this marks the beginning of personal transformation and hence planetary transformation (Hartman, 2000).
Thom Hartman has provided us with a plan of action and tools to use all we need to do is to wake up and start working on the plan. Sustainable development can only be attained if and only if the increase in population is controlled. A desire toward change will move us to start controlling our population, conserves our forests and cut down on our resources consumption rate.
It is evident that oil reserves have been exhausted in the current world and is reflected by the ever increasing oil prices. This has affected almost all sectors of the economy as commodities of most products shoot up. We can also conserve our natural resources by recycling them, eating vegetarian foods, developing gas-efficient cars and coming up with alternative sources of energy such as biogas and hydrogen cells.
Personally, reading this book has impacted positively on the way I look at myself. Before, I could not see the problem as being part of me but rather attribute it to other people. But now I see myself as one side of the problem. This implies that I am thus part of the answer to the problem. I am now more than ever committed towards solving the problem. I am now focused on changing some of my way of life that led to exploitation of the natural resources. It has transformed my earlier attitudes of ‘I don’t care’ and selfish attitude to ‘I care’ and concerned attitudes. The book has inspired me to rise up and play my due role in creating a better world for myself and the live ahead.
We live in the days of rising insecurity. We thus live in fear as we don’t know what the next day will bring forth. We feel inadequate and n able to withstand the situation, in such a case the book describes Last Hours of the Ancient Sunlight become quite beneficial. To survive we need to learn from the surviving indigenous cultures on their life-farming values of cooperation, respect for the earth and personal responsibility. Of great importance is to develop the spirit of self sufficient that is to be satisfied with what we have and not to yearn for more and more.
I tend to differ with Hartman view on how to make use of the remaining oil reserves. He proposes to “use oil to not use oil” (Hartman, 2000, p.23). He advocates for the use of oil to make items that can last for a number of years rather than making weapons which cannot be used for long. There is little if any difference between the two uses as a haul track that was build a thousands years from now will consume more oil than the one that has been build recently. For me, using the oil to build weapons is more beneficial than to build long-term items such as solar panel. Using oil for long term items will lead to low level of economic progress, high rates of oil and other natural resources consumption and increase in population, destruction of forestlands and hence extinction of animal species. This will contribute to worsening of the situation as after a few decades all the oil reserve will be depleted.
I would propose that we use the remaining oil reserves to bring forth a better planetary management system to bring an end to the mass species annihilation. We can deduce from Hartman arguments that his interest are in the present generation and not with future generation and other species. Let us not get tired to act in the best interest of all and the sun will continue to shine in the following day and the next and life will not just go on and on but we will also achieve joy and happiness and then we can pass this gift to our children.
Hartman, T. (2000). The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight: Waking Up to Personal and Global Transformation, ebrary, Toronto: Harper Collins.