Q: What is the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement?
VHEMT (pronounced vehement) is a movement not an organization. It’s a movement advanced by people who care about life on planet Earth. We’re not just a bunch of misanthropes and anti-social, Malthusian misfits, taking morbid delight whenever disaster strikes humans. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Voluntary human extinction is the humanitarian alternative to human disasters.
We don’t carry on about how the human race has shown itself to be a greedy, amoral parasite on the once-healthy face of this planet. That type of negativity offers no solution to the inexorable horrors which human activity is causing.
Rather, The Movement presents an encouraging alternative to the callous exploitation and wholesale destruction of Earth’s ecology.
As VHEMT Volunteers know, the hopeful alternative to the extinction of millions of species of plants and animals is the voluntary extinction of one species: Homo sapiens... us.
Each time another one of us decides to not add another one of us to the burgeoning billions already squatting on this ravaged planet, another ray of hope shines through the gloom.
When every human chooses to stop breeding, Earth’s biosphere will be allowed to return to its former glory, and all remaining creatures will be free to live, die, evolve (if they believe in evolution), and will perhaps pass away, as so many of Nature’s “experiments” have done throughout the eons.
It’s going to take all of us going.
Q: Are you really serious?
We’re really vehement.
Many see humor in The Movement and think we can’t be serious about voluntary human extinction, but in spite of the seriousness of both situation and movement, there’s room for humor. In fact, without humor, Earth’s condition gets unbearably depressing—a little levity eases the gravity.
True, wildlife rapidly going extinct and tens of thousands of children dying each day are not laughing matters, but neither laughing nor bemoaning will change what’s happening. We may as well have some fun as we work and play toward a better world.
Besides, returning Earth to its natural splendor and ending needless suffering of humanity are happy thoughts—no sense moping around in gloom and doom.
Q: Do Volunteers expect to be successful?
VHEMT Volunteers are realistic. We know we’ll never see the day there are no human beings on the planet. Ours is a long-range goal.
It has been suggested that there are only two chances of everyone volunteering to stop breeding: slim and none. The odds may be against preserving life on Earth, but the decision to stop reproducing is still the morally correct one. Indeed, the likelihood of our failure to avoid the massive die off which humanity is engineering is a very good reason to not sentence another of us to life. The future isn’t what it used to be.
Even if our chances of succeeding were only one in a hundred, we would have to try. Giving up and allowing humanity to take its course is unconscionable. There is far too much at stake.
The Movement may be considered a success each time one more of us volunteers to breed no more. We are being the change we want to see in the world.
Q: Does VHEMT have any enemies?
After we’ve seen a few hundred TV dramas where the good guy kicks the bad guy’s butt, it’s tempting to look at the real world with this same knee jerk, zero-sum mentality. We might look for an enemy to attack when championing our righteous cause, but in reality our enemy doesn’t have a butt to kick.
In the end, the real “enemies” are human greed, ignorance, and oppression. We can achieve more by promoting generosity, awareness, and freedom than we can by vainly kicking at a buttless foe.
Great progress will be made toward improving the quality of life on Earth by countering greed with responsibility, ignorance with education, and oppression with freedom.
Instead of meeting the bad guys in the street at high noon and shooting it out, why not invite them into the saloon to work things out?Examples of unity.
Q: What is the official position of VHEMT?
Since the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement isn’t alive with a brain or a mouth, it can’t take positions or have opinions. It can’t get into arguments, tell people what to do and think, nor get punched for doing so.
Voluntary human extinction is simply a concept to be added to existing belief systems, not a complex code of behavior to live by. No committee of Movement shakers decides what position everyone else should take.
Most Volunteers subscribe to the philosophy embodied in the motto “May we live long and die out”, but if someone doesn’t want to live long that’s their business. Really, the only action required for becoming a VHEMT Volunteer or Supporter is not adding another human being to the population. A couple could conceivably be expecting and decide to become VHEMT. That new human would be the last one they produced. VHEMT Supporters are not necessarily in favor of human extinction, but agree that no more of us should be created at this time.
Volunteers are so diverse in religious, political, and philosophical views that it would be divisive to begin formulating official Movement positions. Beware of dogmas. We speak with our own voices.
Q: When and how did VHEMT start?
Roots of VHEMT run as deep as human history. Potential for a voluntary human extinction movement has been around for as long as humans have.
When Ice Age humans hunted animals to extinction, at least one of the sapient neanderthals among them may have reasoned beyond bewilderment. As the Fertile Crescent became a barren desert, and the Cedars of Lebanon were sacrificed for temples, someone must have thought, “this bodes ill.” When Romans fueled their empire by extracting resources from near and far, surely someone remarked, “Humanus non gratis,” or words to that effect. Someone had to get the idea that the planet would be better off without this busy horde.
Someone, that is, besides the middle-eastern god, Yahweh/Jehovah/Allah. Tradition tells how, in prehistoric times, this creator-god realized his mistake in making humans and was going to flush us from the system, but in a weak moment he spared one breeding family. Oops! (Genesis 6: 1-22).
The Story of Atrahasis, an earlier Sumerian myth recorded in Babylonian text, tells of multiple gods conspiring to rid Earth of the bothersome creatures they had molded out of clay. One sneaky god warns a human to build a boat before the flood, and the rest is our history.
We call The Movement VHEMT, but it’s undoubtedly been given other names throughout history. None have been recorded, as far as we know.
There must be millions of people around the world who are independently arriving at the same conclusion. A large portion of today’s Volunteers were vehement extinctionists before they learned of the title “VHEMT”.
The true origins of The Movement can be found in the natural abundance of
love and logic within each one of us. Our in-born sense of justice guides us
to make the responsible choice.
No one person is the founder of VHEMT. Les U. Knight gave the name “Voluntary Human Extinction Movement” to a philosophy or worldview which has existed for as long as humans have been sapient. It’s an awareness which has been arrived at independently in many places throughout history, but had become lost amid societies’ natalism.
Like millions of other people, Les followed a simple train of logic, guided by love, and arrived at the conclusion that Gaia would be better off without humans. He could be considered the finder, having identified The Movement by giving it a name, though each of us finds the truth for ourselves.
Although Les has become known internationally as a spokesperson for The Movement, no one can speak for all VHEMT Volunteers. There is no official position on issues beyond what is implied in the name of The Movement.
Q: We have children. Can we still join?
Today’s children are tomorrow’s destiny. Our children have the potential for achieving the awareness needed to reverse civilization’s direction and begin restoring Earth’s biosphere. Most could use our help in realizing their full potentials.
Naturally you’re welcome to join, and you won’t be alone. When people gain the VHEMT perspective, they decide to add no more to the existing human family. They don’t pressure their children to give them grandchildren and might encourage them to make a responsible choice with their fertility.
There is no reason to feel guilty about the past. Guilt doesn’t lead to positive solutions. Being VHEMT has little to do with the past. It’s the future of life on Earth that Volunteers want to preserve.
Q: Are some people opposed to VHEMT?
At first glance, some people assume that VHEMT Volunteers and Supporters must hate people and that we want everyone to commit suicide or become victims of mass murder. It’s easy to forget that another way to bring about a reduction in our numbers is to simply stop making more of us. Making babies seems to be a blind spot in our outlooks on life.
The idea of all of us voluntarily refraining from procreation is often dismissed without much consideration. These examples are considered elsewhere at this site:
However, if any of us thinks about the situation long enough, and makes the effort to work through those socially-instilled blocks to clear thinking, we will arrive at virtually the same conclusion: we should voluntarily phase ourselves out for the good of humanity and planet.
VHEMT is naturally in opposition to involuntary extinction of any species, as well as any efforts encouraging human extermination. There are presently concerted efforts supporting both of these horrors. For example:
The above could be called the Terrorist Human Extermination Movement (THEM), but that’s labeling and encourages a “Them or Us” attitude.
VHEMT is opposed to what these people are doing, but it’s doubtful any would bother to return the favor. Really, there isn’t much point in opposing a voluntary movement which harms none and benefits all.
I think voluntary human extinction is misguided or worse.
Opposition to human extinction, reproductive freedom, improved human population density, and Earth-centered thinking
Q: How do I join?
Being VHEMT is a state of mind. All you have to do to join is make the choice to refrain from further reproduction. For some, this is an easy decision to make. For others, it’s a moot issue. But for many, joining The Movement means making a monumental personal sacrifice.
The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement is not an organization, so no membership dues go to officials in offices. We are millions of individuals, each doing what we feel is best. Join with other VHEMT Volunteers and Supporters.
More impetus is added to our momentum with each mention in international media. Vice TV's “The Business of Live” gave Les an opportunity to present the concept of voluntary human extinction in their episode on Climate Change June 25th, 2017. A 10-minute excerpt of the program provides a teaser.
In addition to the VHEMT information table hosted at the Public Interest Environmental law conference each year for more than 25 years, in March 2017, Les organized a panel, “Human Population Pressures: Influences, Responsibilities, and Benefits of Improving our Approaches.”
Les addressed natalism as the social institution motivating procreation. Text and graphics of Les’ presentation.
On September 5, 2009, the Discovery Channel’s Focus Earth included the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement’s solution in their episode about over population. Bob Woodruff’s interview of Les Knight and Nina Paley may be viewed online: “No More Children.”
For Earth Day 2009, Laura Ingraham hosted Les on her syndicated radio program in advance of Steven Milloy, author of Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them. No, it’s not intended to be a parody.
On July 3, 2008 in a half-hour radio broadcast, Stephanie Potter interviewed Les about VHEMT. Archived at: The Recovery Zone.
A November 16, 2005 article in SF Gate - the San Francisco Chronicle online - by Gregory Dicum: “GREEN Maybe None: Is having a child—even one—environmentally destructive?” was picked up by UPI, appearing in many newspapers.
From there, quite a few radio talk shows invited Les to be interviewed and sometimes take calls from listeners. Les was a guest on “FOX News Live With Alan Colmes” radio show on November 29th, 2005. Alan also hosted Les for two Earth Day shows, April 27, 2004, and April 22, 2005, receiving calls from across North America. Les was on Alan’s show again on February 2, 2009.
On December 2, 2005, an MSNBC TV program, The Situation with Tucker Carlson, featured Les in a segment entitled, “Taking on the [Voluntary] Human Extinction Movement”. Although Tucker wasn’t fully in agreement with VHEMT, his questions allowed the main points to be shared with the audience. A transcript and video may be seen at their site. Tucker’s final comment: “I will say, that is the sickest thing I think I’ve ever heard, but you are one of the cheeriest guests we’ve ever had. I don’t know how to—how the two fit together, but I appreciate you coming on. Thanks a lot.”
Selected articles, interviews of Les, mixed reviews, and so on may be seen at: Media Mentions
A major goal of our web site is to advance the population-awareness movement, which seems to have become stalled, and may have slipped back to where it was more than 35 years ago. Progressive population awareness groups advocate a one-child average and two maximum, but few, if any, dare to advocate zero procreation. Environmental groups, with the notable exception of The Center for Biological Diversity, avoid the controversial topic, preferring to work on consequences of our excessive breeding. Scientists acknowledge population’s effects, but also decline to include it in their suggested solutions.
Several online forums for sharing and discussing ideas related to voluntary human extinction are available in English, French, and Spanish.
On April 8, 2010, French TV, Global Arte, broadcast a 2:16 minute anti-natalist, pro-planet video which included VHEMT. (in French) “Les anti-natalité font leur buzz”
Giving a talk, “Thank you for not breeding”, on February 16th, 2010, Les presented the VHEMT concept at Oberlin College and Conservatory, sponsored by Oberlin Animal Rights.
Les participated in a panel titled,“Human Population Density: Patriarchy’s Influence, Positive Signs, and Reproductive Freedom.” at the 26th annual Public Interest Environmental Law Conference in Eugene, Oregon March 9th, 2008. The panel also included Kelpie Wilson, Environmental Editor for TruthOut and author of Primal Tears, and Richard York, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Oregon and co-editor of the journal Organization and Environment.
Q: How do I order bumper stickers (car stickers), buttons (badges), T-shirts, and back issues of These EXIT Times?
These items are readily available by postal mail from These EXIT Times, or online from CafePress.