Q: Will new viruses, wars, famine, and toxic waste help the cause of human extinction?

No. Epidemics actually strengthen a species if enough of them are living to have an adequate survival rate. With more than 7.6 billion of us, there is no virus that could get us all. A 99.99% die off would still leave more than 760,000 naturally-immune survivors to replicate, and in less than 50,000 years we could be right back where we are now. For any disease to simply hold the human population where it is, more than 200,000 of us would have to succumb to it each day. Suffering and death cannot help but hurt.

Hundreds of millions have died in wars and yet the human family continues to increase. Most of the time, wars encourage both the winners and losers to re-populate. When troops are called up for invasions, sperm banks take deposits hand over fist. The net result of war is usually an increase rather than a decrease in total population size.

Resource shortages are dealt with by resorting to mass murder and calling it war, but the results are only temporary. Besides being impractical, killing people is immoral. It should never be considered as a way to improve life on Earth.

The massive die-off of humanity, predicted by so many as a result of our overshoot of Earth’s carrying capacity, is what the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement hopes to avoid.

It’s possible that VHEMT will not succeed in staving off ecological collapse. So, couples contemplating procreation may want to consider the possibility that they will be sentencing their off-spring to a rapidly-deteriorating quality of life and unimaginably horrible death.

Something to think about, anyway.

Q: Are we all supposed to kill ourselves?

SUMMARY: Increasing human deaths will not improve population density. Many people are advocating an increase in the death rate to reduce human population numbers. However, increased death has historically increased births. Promoting reproductive freedom, economic opportunity, and education will shrink our masses faster and nicer.

Grim Reaper to the Rescue?

Will super hero Grim Reaper pull our precious Gaia from the brink of ecological catastrophe in time? Will generous, sweeping strokes of his deadly scythe mow down millions of humans, stopping us before we destroy ourselves and our host?

Grim Reaper’s henchmen, Famine, Disease, and War, joined lately by mutant cousin, Plutonium, are harvesting as fast as ever, and haven’t kept up with our rank growth.

Yet, despite Death’s dismal record for slowing human population growth, some today advocate utilizing more of his services for the benefit of all. They’re trying to make the Grim Reaper look good.

1990 Clark Dissmeyer

Like Pentti Linkola of Saaksmaki, Finland, quoted in the Wall Street Journal (1) Another world war, he says (in Finnish), would be “a happy occasion for the planet ... If there were a button I could press, I would sacrifice myself without hesitating if it meant millions would die. ”

He didn’t say how many millions he wants to play lemming with, but even 80 million would only eliminate one year’s growth. It wouldn't rescue Gaia, and we’d be stuck with all those bodies. Yuck. Even the late Garrett Hardin, who said that feeding starving people just makes more starving people, balked at Linkola's hard-nosed philosophy: “We have many possibilities which should be explored before we take a strong-arm approach,” he cautioned.

Weekly World News (2) tells the story of two escaped French chemists, Henri Mevel and Jean-Michael DuPont, who allegedly plan to poison every human on the planet to “save it from pollution and overpopulation. “ Interpol’s Marc Jubert admits, “we don’t know exactly what Mevel and DuPont are making but if we don’t stop them in time the results will be devastating... They may be mad, but they aren’t crazy.”

Well, even with their “network of 2,000 radical environmentalists around the world,” there’s no way they’ll even approach Linkola’s magic-button body count: a paltry 2% of us.

A Newhouse News Service (3) story about former CIA chief of counter-terrorism, Vincent M. Cannistraro also belongs in the Weekly World News. He envisions “highly educated scientists... (in) small organized clandestine cells working on the development of technologies to diminish or even eliminate the race of man [sic] from the Earth.” The article also cites the voluntary human extinction movement, in hopes of adding credence to this fantasy.

There may very well be well-funded, clandestine cells of scientists working to eliminate large numbers of people. However, saving planet Earth is probably not one of their motives.

The Church of Euthanasia advocates what many think of when they hear about VHEMT for the first time: suicide for Earth’s sake. Founder Chris Korda, in their newsletter Snuff It, (4) encourages those who are truly serious about saving the planet to kill themselves. Also offered are several creative ways to help the cause of voluntary human extinction.

The Gaia Liberation Front (5) favors people killing each other as in wars, but prefers “hand-to-hand combat, or better yet, biological agents that kill only humans.”

No matter how many millions are sacrificed by the Grim Reaper, and for whatever reason, benefits to Gaia would be minimal. In fact, high death rates cause high birth rates, often resulting in a net increase. Post-war baby booms quickly replace the dead of both victor and vanquished.

In Wild Earth, (6) I examine the infamous Bubonic Plague’s effect on western civilization’s census report: “Immediately after this minor blip, our numbers began to shoot for the moon. The industrial revolution was no doubt a factor in allowing us to burgeon to the bursting point, but the Black Death may be the reason we want to breed like bunnies. Burned into our collective memory was the horror of massive deaths of our kind. Our reaction as a species, naturally, has been fertility with a vengeance.”

To cope with this rampant fertility, I conclude, “...reproductive freedom, economic opportunity, and education are far more effective methods of improving the ratio of people-to-wildlife than promoting death could ever be.”

No, the Grim Reaper is not Gaia’s knight in shining armor - he can’t just kill the stork. We are the potential heroes of this rescue. If enough members of the human family become vehement about preserving life on Earth, fair Gaia has a prayer.

(1) Wall Street Journal, Milbank, Dana, May 20, 1994, pg A4.
(2) Weekly World News, August 6, 1991, pg 33.
(3) Newhouse News Service, Tilove, Jonathan, The Grand Rapids Press, April 14, 1991, pg E4.
(4) Snuff It, Korda, Chris, Spring 1994, Church of Euthanasia, POB 261 Somerville MA 02143.
(5) These EXIT Times, No. 2, 1992, pg 12
(6) Wild Earth (pdf), Knight, Les U., Winter 1992/93, pgs 76-77. Cenozoic Society, Inc., POB 455, Richmond VT 05477.

Q: Won’t VHEMT die out when all its members die off?

If an idea lacks enough merit to be passed on without being force-fed from an early age, it probably deserves to be forgotten.

Awareness isn’t passed along in our genes. Every VHEMT Volunteer or Supporter is the result of a breeding couple, and yet we have all decided to stop reproducing. Often, we arrived at this conclusion independently and without support from friends and family.

The concept of voluntary human extinction has a life of its own. It’s an idea whose time has come, though it may be a little late.

Q: Why don’t you just kill yourself?

This could be the most frequently asked question of all. Fair enough question: if we’re so bad for whatever habitat we’re occupying, why don’t we just stop it? There are several reasons why retroactive birth control isn’t a part of VHEMT.

As explained above, increasing death is like trying to bail out a sinking boat without plugging the leak. People are flooding in twice as fast as they’re bailing out.

It’s hard enough just to get people to consider not breeding. Advocating suicide, by any method besides old age, would be a particularly hard sell. There’s no way we could convince enough people to kill themselves to make a difference, especially after we’re too dead to talk. Suicide doesn’t set an example others will follow.

Death comes soon enough -- far too soon for many of us. After working most of our lives, a dozen years of retirement isn’t too much to ask. Those years may be dedicated to humanitarian and environmental causes.

Shortening an existing person’s life by a few decades doesn’t avoid as many years of human impact as not creating a whole new life—one with the potential for producing more of us. Four people would have to die 20 years early to offset one new human with 80 years ahead of them, unless they breed.

We have a responsibility to help the world as much as we’re able before we die. Leaving the work for others would be irresponsible.

VHEMT is a cause to live for not to die for.

More on suicide.

Q: Is this another one of those suicide cults?

Seems as if our entire industrialized civilization is one big suicide cult. The symptoms surround us.

We propel our bodies about in fragile metal boxes, at potentially fatal speeds, without much care or reason.

We ingest so much poison that meat from our bones wouldn’t meet government standards for pork.

We pull strands from the web of life, jump up and down on it, and expect it to hold our ever-increasing weight. Few notice there’s no safety net.

Instead, we could be embracing life: voluntary human extinction offers a healthy cure for humanity’s collective death wish.

“Is Humanity Suicidal?” E.O. Wilson, Cosmos, Sept 2005

Next category: DEMOGRAPHY