Independent Arrivals to the Concept of Voluntary Human Extinction

People around the world have independently arrived at the conclusion that Earth’s biosphere would be better off if humans went extinct. Many others have reasoned that humanity would be better off not existing. Although the VHEMT site is now in more than a dozen languages, most may feel as if they’re the only ones with this awareness—unaware that they are part of a global movement, sharing a meme birthed by millions.

Ancient myths tell of gods deciding they made a mistake in creating humans, and trying to wipe us out. Alas, their efforts were thwarted and now look.

Philosophers have thought about our existence and what it means to planet and people. Heinrich Heine (1797-1856) and Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) wrote that people would be better off not born due to the suffering their lives inevitably entail.

Although many throughout history have likely arrived at this solution, they either didn’t write it down or their words have been lost to us. If you know of historical records or celebrity endorsements of the concept of humans going extinct for the good of planet or people, please share them: Les U. Knight

In modern times, improved communication allows us to realize how often people follow their own path of compassionate reasoning to arrive at virtually the same conclusion.

Kurt Vonnegut [1922-2007] expressed his view of humanity on Bill Maher’s show September 9, 2005:

MAHER: Yeah, you said this in the new book, you said about the planet, “We could have saved it, but we were just too damn cheap and lazy.”
VONNEGUT: Yes. We are killing the planet as a life support system. And we may have gone so far already that there’s no recovery from it. The game may be over. Just to cheer you up. [chuckles]
MAHER: Right. And would that be a bad thing? Would that be a bad thing? I know you’ve said things like—
VONNEGUT: No, look, I think it’s—I think the earth’s immune system is trying to get rid of us, and it’s high time they did. My goodness, we are a disease on the face of this planet. You know, after two world wars and the Holocaust, and Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and, well, the Roman games and the Spanish Inquisition, and the burning of women in public squares. It’s time we got out of here, and I ...
MAHER: You left out “The Gong Show.” [laughter]
VONNEGUT: Yeah, but we are a disease on the planet. And I think we ought to become “syphilis with a conscience” and stop reproducing. [laughter] [applause]
MAHER: Well, I’m going to do my part. [laughter] And I know you’ll do yours. Kurt Vonnegut, I thank you very much for making time out to talk to us. And good luck with the book. [applause] [cheers] PDF of transcript.

In 1990, Danielle Dax covered The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows,” and in the first five seconds of the music video she says, “For the survival of everything else on this world, you know, we should disappear quick... happy!” It’s highly unlikely she had heard of VHEMT. Watch video

Non-celebrities have also written of their VHEMT awareness. Below is a sampling from among the many who wrote in English:

I’ve always had this thought in my mind that humans have had a good run, but it’s getting about time to give the other species a shot. Siân

I had never heard of this movement until today but I almost cried with tears of joy. It is so nice to know that I am not the only one who feels this way. Sarah

Like many of your supporters, I came about the idea of human extinction on my own through my own volition but I am delighted to see other sensible human beings sharing my sentiment. I have had this idea for quite some time but I appreciate knowing that I am not alone. Danny

I am 19 years old and i am a strong supporter of the VHEMT. I only just found out about the movement and I was suprised to find out that there is other people out there that think the same as I do. Daniel, Australia

My name is Sean and I have always thought that the earth would be better off without humans.

I became what is defined as a Supporter many years ago, and I knew a few people were with me, but I never dreamed there would actually be an organization about it. I must officially be a part of it! Anonymous

Personally, I have been in full and hearty agreement with VHEMT’s goals, from long before I discovered the organisation’s existence. Kate, NZ

This voluntary concept occured to me a while ago. Realising that this idea is being shared seriously by more people gives me comfort and strength. Yanic, Montreal, Canada

I am 28 years old and have basically supported human extinction my entire life. I found out about the actual movement of VHEMT about seven years ago. Elizabeth

For once in life, someone’s been able to put words to my thoughts... Bea, Spain

Been a long time believer in the philosophy. Glad to discover it’s got a name and a sense of humour. Anonymous

I’ve always thought earth would be a better place without the plauge that the human race is. I was glad when i heard about VHEMT on Swedish radio. Andreas, Sweden

I came to the same conclusions as those being professed by this group when I was a little boy. Sanghananda

I had vhemt’s ideas before i heard about it!! Irenne

The ideas of your movement are breeding in me for many years, but only yesterday I’ve learnt, to my pleasant surprise, about VHEMT. Anatoly, Israel

i’m a vegan, animal rights activist. i just discovered this group but i’ve had these ideas for years and years. jezamae

Until now, I thought I was the only person resented for drawing this deductive conclusion. It’s nice to see that a few others have drawn some objectivity out of their existence (stepping around their innate psychological humanism) and come to this conclusion independently. Karl

Thank you for VHEMT—I literally just this minute found out about you—I thought it was only me!!! It’s really made my day to know that there are others who feel the same way all across the world! Tony UK

I was surprised and pleased to learn about this group. I’m happy to know that I’m not alone in this belief. Elliet

Without knowing anything about vhemt I had already come to the same conclusion. Ann

I have just finished reading The World Without Us and found the VHEMT concept mirrored what I have been yapping about for years (like some lone madman among the reproducing masses. Possumtail

I am an environmental studies major in California. Just saw your site for the first time tonight. I came to these same conclusions myself over the past 5 years or so. I have been trying to find a group that sees things the same way I do and now I have. I am going to tell all my friends about it as well. Kristy

Dear VHEMT, I’m not alone! This is some of the best stuff I have read in ages. Thank Gaia there are others like me, I was beginning to think I was a bit weird! Ray, UK

I am an avid VHEMT supporter and volunteer. Interestingly, I’ve only recently discovered VHEMT, but I had long ago decided to never have children for many reasons, namely environmental. rhb

just found your website, whilst searching for related topics i couldn´t believe what i had read!! i think almost exactly the same as u do... Guilherme, Lisbon, Portugal

I’ve held this same idea about human propagation coming to a halt for most of my life, and have tried to persuade others that ending our species by refusing to breed would be a good thing. Leonids


The Path of Progressive Awareness

Because we’ve all arrived at our present awareness by different routes and at our own speeds, this simplified, seven-step diagram might not fit anyone exactly. However, this progression of awareness pattern seems to have emerged. Maybe a two-dimensional chart will provide a little direction and help us track the progress of ourselves and others.
path of awareness

An additional note from Les:
Reading Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ stages of death in On Death and Dying, I was amazed that it was so close to the typical path of awareness in dealing with our “death” as a species. At the time, I didn’t realize that Dr. Ross’ stages correspond more closely than my sketch shows. “Bargaining” is a stage just before acceptance. Deals with God are attempted at this point. I didn’t think it applied to VHEMT.

Over the years, I’ve shared with other Volunteers some of the many letters I’ve received asking if there’s some way out of our extinction: go into space, learn to live in harmony, invent a technological fix... something.

They had achieved an understanding of what’s been done to the biosphere, and were done being angry about it, but weren’t quite ready to accept that we must disappear. Then someone pointed out that this is the bargaining stage, and it rang true.

Just as people who know they are dying sometimes do, we could live the rest of our lives in the bargaining stage—hoping for a miracle to restore ecosystems and stop extinctions.

It’s up to each of us to grow beyond these earlier stages. No one can do it for us. A hopeful hopelessness awaits us.

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