Occasionally, visitors to the VHEMT website experience misunderstandings concerning The Movement's purpose and goals. Fortunately, many have the good sense to email me with their concerns, and allow for some clarification. If you're viewing in color, visitors' words are in red. If not, they are marked with > and < at the beginnings and ends.
My replies include opinions which may differ from the opinions of some other Volunteers. No one speaks for everyone in The Movement.
I've not been able to keep up with the encouraging volume of email, and so have set up a forum where visitors who have questions and comments can post messages, to be responded to by assorted VHEMT Volunteers and Supporters.
I've selected some rather randomly to share with you, my comments
are in between. I'm sorry there are so many phrases repeated below.
They just fit so well.
Words within [brackets] have been added since the exchanges were made.
The following warning may be offensive to those who find these warnings offensive.
Warning: Some of the words in the following messages may be offensive to those who find certain combinations of letters offensive. You have been warned!
(Actually there's not much naughty stuff -- I'm just being dramatic).
>Don't you think it is perhaps slightly arrogant to believe that humans are so large of force that we are capable of destroying the entire planet or all life on it?<
Maybe we aren't capable of turning Earth into another Mars, even if we made it our goal and expended all our energies doing so.
But, y'know, it seems to me that's exactly what we ARE doing. Whether we succeed in ending all life, or simply reduce life to insects and below, I think our rampant destruction is indefensable. Just because we might not be powerful enough to totally destroy the planet, doesn't mean it's alright to partially destroy it.
>The earth has withstood asteroid collisions the magnitude of which can't be imagined and every time the earth has rebounded with all it's previous glory.<
Yes, 65 million years later, Earth was replenished; without the dinosaurs.
>After the humans have had there time at the top of things the earth will rebuild itself in a diverse way.<
Yes, tens of millions of years from the time our greed destroys most of the web of life, a whole new biosphere will probably exist on Earth; without the Homo sapiens.
>Humans have lived for such a miniscule amount of time in comparison to the existance of life on the planet that to think humans are to much for the planet is misguided. <
In the few million years we've been here, we have, as you noted, emerged as the most powerful species. In fact, this has happened just in the last 10,000 years. Our ability to alter massive amounts of Earth's surface has only existed a short time. Nuclear weapons aren't much older than I am. Nonetheless, in spite of these minuscule amounts of time these changes have occurred in, they seem to be too much for large portions of the planet.
Can we morally justify destroying life forms which have taken billions of years to evolve? Sure, others will come along to take their places, but that seems like saying it's alright to kill someone because 389,000 more are born on an average day.
I don't think we have the right to cause even one species to involuntarily go extinct. This is a paradox, however, since the crab louse and a couple dozen other species, will become extinct when we do. A tragic loss.
>You know what? You have a very twisted and warped view of reality. <
I realize the concept of our phasing ourselves out may seem warped and twisted at first glance. It's not what most people think yet. Thank you for taking the time to consider it.
>The human species exists only as a blip in the BIG picture. <
True, we've only been around for the blink of an eye compared with the entire existence of life on Earth. We do work fast. Although we are only a blip, our activities will influence life on Earth until there's no life on Earth. This may seem like an inflated view of Homo sapiens, however, when we consider that tens of thousands of species, which have evolved at the expense of billions of other species, are being eliminated from the web of life each year, it's apparent that we are profoundly affecting the big picture.
>As a human you also have a rather inflated view of yourself and the human race. <
It's a funny thing: we are the most important species and the least important at the same time. The choices we make have the greatest impact on Earth's biosphere, so we could be considered the most important species. On the other hand, the higher up the food chain a species is, the less critical to the web of life it is. Our extinction will have far less impact than that of, say, the common krill would.
>There is no need for a global solution. The human species will be its own doom or salvation. <
Yes, that's the idea behind VHEMT: we are either the doom or the salvation. We can continue as we are and suffer the consequences, taking much of non-human life with us, or we can use our reason and compassion to make changes which bring about our "salvation".
>I believe that the human population will either balance itself or die out completly. Right now we are going through exponential growth. With normal biological systems, after expoential growth comes a population crash. <
Again we agree. The massive die off which follows overshoot of carrying capacity is well understood. We might be the only species capable of foreseeing the die off in time to avoid it. Now it's just a matter of whether we will or not.
>TO preserve the earth Human attitude must change as well.<
Yes, quite true. It's not enough for us to all stop breeding. If not one more human were ever born, and we don't improve our relationship with the natural world, there won't be much left by the time we're all gone. As the ecological disasters of the past show, we don't need six billion to cause massive damage.
>All human life on Earth does not need to be erased just changed.<
You're not alone in this belief. Many VHEMT Supporters don't feel that the human race should go extinct, just that the intentional creation of one more of us by anyone anywhere can't be justified at this time.
>Your genocidal solution amuses me, and also saddens me to think that some humans have become so jaded that they can see no solution but mass death. <
Me too. I regularly hear from people who say that we don't have to worry about excessive human population because Gaia will wipe us out if we get to be too many. To me this is like saying we don't need to step on the brake because the car will stop when it hits the embankment anyway. Why do we have brains, and brakes, if we don't use them?
It's indeed saddening to think that some are so jaded, or have lost so much hope, that they see the massive death we are engineering for ourselves as inevitable. VHEMT Volunteers may not be able to convince enough people to stop breeding in time to avoid the crash, but many of us feel a moral duty to try.
VHEMT is not about death, it is about life. Although we all must pass on eventually to bring about our extinction, shortening our lives will not help. For death to keep our population at the level it is today, an additional 220,000 people would have to die each day. This is not a viable solution for many reasons, morality number one. The motto of VHEMT is "May we live long and die out."
Helping couples gain the freedom to prevent the conception of new humans is a far more positive approach.
>Oh and by the way... No species on this planet is without a place in the intricate web of life. Our extinction would be no less disasterous than any other so don't kid your self... every action has a reaction. remember that<
Thanks for the reminder. Something to keep in mind when balancing the extinction of one species -- Homo sapiens -- with the number of other species going extinct because of our existence.
There may be a couple dozen species which live only on or in humans, and they too will tragically cease to exist. This is the trade off: preserve the web of life as a whole by removing the species which is removing all the other strands in the web.
Stuart in Australia wrote:
>In about 4 billion years, the sun is going to explode and engulf the earth.
At that time, all life on will be destroyed.
There are few options for terrestrial life surviving beyond this
1) A meteorite may strike the earth, throwing debris far into space. That debris may contain earth bacteria or other primitive life forms. It may then travel across the vast interstellar distances and impact on another habitable planet, causing life to spawn on that planet.
2) A friendly extraterrestrial race may visit the earth and take samples of earth life away with them.
3) An intelligent terrestrial species, such as us, could develop a means of interstellar travel and seed other planets around other stars.
I have no idea what the probability of the first 2 options is. So I think it is better maximize the odds and go for the third. The human race, it is conceivable, may develop interstellar travel within the next 100 to 200 years.<
If we don't cause a major ecological collapse before that.
>If the human race becomes voluntarily extinct, then the chances of us developing interstellar travel are zero. So the fate of the earth rests with the first 2 options, or with another intelligent species arising on the earth after we are gone, and it developing interstellar travel. <
I sure hope one doesn't. Our experience here on Earth with exotic species invading ecosystems should give adequate warning of the folly of our going to other inhabitable planets and spreading life.
>And even if it does, it will probably cause as much environmental damage as we have in doing so.<
It isn't impossible that another species will come along and do as we are, just highly unlikely.
>Considering several factors:
1) The human ancesteral line has had many narrow escapes during its evolution.<
The fossil record shows this, and there's a good chance we killed off the others in the Homo genus -- even more likely we killed off the sub species Homo sapiens neandertalis. [Now considered a separate species, Homo neandertalis, not capable of breeding with Homo sapiens.]
>2) Life on earth has had chances to develop intelligent species before us and failed.<
No species, as far as we know, has ever taken the evolutionary sidetrack we have. Many species, not just apes, exhibit intelligence on a par with us -- even though we try to skew the scale of intelligence to make it seem like we're the smartest. None of them seem to be in line to convert the rest of the world into their habitat as we are doing.
>3) Modern humans have been around for about 100,000 years. Civilisation as we know it has only been around about 10,000 years. It took us 90,000 years of wandering around hunter-gathering to come up with the idea.<
Or perhaps they didn't have to come up with it for the majority of our existence. Hunting and gathering in warm climates takes much less work than farming and ranching. When our population got too dense to support us in the old ways, we had to build shelters, defend the stored food and so on. This meant we needed more people to work the fields, tend the herds, and fight the wars. Then we needed more land for farms and flocks. Our civilizations are based on pyramid schemes.
4) During the last 10,000 years, we have suffered many technological setbacks and lost civilisations.<
And excessive breeding is often the cause, though the blame gets shifted to droughts or mini-ice ages as in 535 CE. Cultures become more fragile as they become more dependent on artificial systems for life support. Native Americans in the Southwest increased in number thanks to their success with domesticating corn. Then a severe and recurring dry period, which had not destroyed their civilizations previously, resulted in their migration and virtual abandonment of their cities. There are many examples, and we may be creating yet another, on a greater scale than ever before.
Our technology has postponed the dieoff which all species experience after they go into overshoot of their environment's carrying capacity. This will make the dieoff all the more horrific when it finally occurs. We could avoid this, or at least avoid sentencing someone to life only to die in it.
>I find it unlikely that the earth will once again spawn an intelligent species with as good a chance as us of developing interstellar travel.<
Before we seek out new worlds and go where no human has gone before, it seems to me we have an obligation to clean up our messes on this world.
>So I think that we should not become voluntarily extinct. That would condemn life on earth to a very probable firery end. When, very probably, we are a mere 200 hundred years away from averting that catostropy.<
It sure seems to me that we are a mere 200 years away from creating catastrophe approaching that scale.
Will in Australia wrote:
>Thanks Les, a refreshing perspective, with more wisdom than many would give you credit for, and all leavened with some humour.<
Thank you. The subject needs a little levity to offset the gravity.
>Personally I think humun extinction is not only way too extreme, but just plain wrong. A significant reduction to a stable and sustainable world population of (say) 1 billion seems a lot more consistent with your objectives than total extinction, <
You're not alone in thinking this. VHEMT Supporters, as distinct from Volunteers, are not in favor of our extinction. Generally, Supporters agree that the intentional creation of one more of us by anyone anywhere can't be justified today, but maybe when our density is improved enough to be sustainable, we can rethink our breeding.
In order for us to improve our population density to what it was almost 200 years ago, as you suggest, a virtual moratorium on breeding would be necessary. I certainly favor any improvement in our density. The most favorable projection I've seen is for our numbers to peak around 2050 at 10 to 12 billion. My feeling is that Earth can't sustain that many people, but perhaps if we convert most of the remaining wildlife habitat to our uses, we could do so for a short time. I say short time because a major ecological collapse would surely follow.
Once we got down to whatever Earth can support, the tricky part would be to keep our numbers down to that point. It was only 10 or 12 thousand years ago our density was low enough to be sustainable.
>allowing harmony with nature while developing important but intangible concepts such as poetry, justice and art. <
Those things only have value to humanity. We have evolved into a virtual exotic invader in Earth's biosphere as a whole. Now that we no longer live in mutual benefit with Nature, our existence is not compatible with natural ecosystems. When an exotic species is introduced to an ecosystem, extinctions can and do occur. The fossil record shows that each time Homo sapiens arrived on a new continent, a major spasm of extinctions occurred. We don't know why yet: probably diseases, hunting, or a combination of the two plus something we are over looking. We continue with new methods and are bringing about the sixth great spasm of extinctions.
>Humans do add value, through the appearance of consciousness, and this great power needs to be managed, but surely not extinguished.<
Consciousness may be what set Homos erectus, neandertalus, and sapiens apart from our ancient ancestors, and from other animals as well. Some say it was learning how to use fire, others say agriculture was the beginning of the end. Consciousness seems like a good thing for us at this time, but does it benefit Earth's biosphere as a whole?
>I assume you've heard of Deep Ecology, the bio-centric as opposed to human centric philosophy first properly expounded by Arne Naess?<
Naturally, which is why I asked the question just above. Actually, I think many other animals demonstrate some degree of consciousness.
>Anyway, thanks again for your site and thoughts. It helps confirm my commitment to having only .5 of a child.<
Congratulations on your personal sacrifice. If everyone limited their procreation to one half of an offspring, just think how fast our density would improve.
I heard Paul Ehrlich speak and he was advocating a global average birth rate of 1.5. He also said that the only way we could feed 10 billion people would be if we all stopped eating meat and implemented an equitable food distribution. Those two things aren't going to happen, but then no matter what he suggests doesn't mean it will happen -- same as with VHEMT.
It seems to me his suggestion would guarantee hundreds of millions of deaths from starvation, but if he said one child he would be linked to China's policy, and if he suggested 0.5 he would sound like a nut -- even though that's a rational suggestion.
>As a biologist I can tell you that in evolutionary history explosions in biodiversity always follow catastrophic disturbances in ecosystems. <
And after a war, both sides create an explosion in population, but this doesn't make the war a good thing.
>In example: when photosynthetic organisms first began to produce atmospheric oxygen it was a deadly poison exterminating most of the life on Earth at the time. As we now know the metabolism of over half of Earth's biodiversity is dependent on this molecule. The notion that anthropogenic disturbance is unnatural is arrogant and naive. <
Stating that anthropogenic disturbance is unnatural would also be irrelevant, due to the confusion surrounding the word "natural". I try to avoid it, because of this and will look for places it's used at the VHEMT website to change it to something which more accurately describes what we are doing to Earth's biosphere -- something such as "criminal".
>Life on this planet has survived numerous catastrophic extinctions and has always emerged with increased diversity. The disruption of stable ecosystems by humans will ultimately drive evolution at a higher rate as invader species move into new niches and are subjected to new selective pressures. <
Driving "evolution at a higher rate" by reducing biodiversity seems arrogant and naive to me. What's the point? If ecosystems reach a balance that is fairly stable over time, does this mean we should come along and speed things up by destroying that balance? Sounds like an application of predatory business practices to organic systems.
It also sounds like an attempt to excuse our unethical and irresponsible behavior. So, it's alright to fill a wetlands with a parking lot because in the long run there will be more species to make up for it?
>I agree that Homo sapiens will eventually become extinct, and it will probably be by our own doing. <
That's what we're hoping for: voluntarily rather than involuntarily.
>When this happens we will have created an enormous niche for life and evolution to expand into. <
Yes. We have converted so much wildlife habitat into our own, that as we phase out there will be more room for remaining species. Animals which lived around Chernobyl before it was built are returning, though they may not live long or reproduce well. All we had to do is remove the humans. Apparently, we're worse than radiation.
>I agree that we should limit our reproduction, but not for the good of life on Earth. My position is based solely on selfish motives. I wish to preserve my way of life. <
Although it may not seem like our way of life depends on other life forms, preserving them also preserves us.
>Somehow I get the feeling that you are just trying to pull off a spoof. <
Sometimes I wonder if the entire human race is a spoof. Yes, misconceptions sometimes occur when humor is mixed in with seriousness. I can assure you, this is no spoof, we're vehement about preserving what's left of Earth's biosphere.
>However, should you really be in earnest, I can only say that it is too bad that your parents did not subscribe to this theory before you were born! <
Oh, it really wouldn't make much difference. Lots of people have independently come to the conclusion that the intentional creation of one more of us by anyone anywhere can't be justified at this time.
If I hadn't named it the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, someone else would have come along and given a name to the increasing awareness of our place in the natural world. 'Course they might not have done as good a job. ;-)
I have one question for you, if you don't mind: "Why breed?"
I didn't really intend to start a discussion about the subject, but finally have gotten some time to try to respond.
For starters I guess I would have to say that you and I are coming from totally different perspectives. I happen to believe that God created the world and that man was his ultimate creation. People were meant to be stewards of all that is on the earth. I will grant you that we have done a poor job, and I certainly approve of birth control to limit the number of children to that which parents can reasonably support. However, this problem is relatively new. The advances of the last century or so - especially in science and medicine -have caused a huge increase in the population. Even though thousands die of starvation and disease, the toll is not what it was for many centuries. Unfortunately man's inventions are far ahead of his ability to monitor their use and the morality that must be employed in that endeavor. Scientists discover and invent things - they care not about the morality or consequences of their inventions. It is up to others to decide what can and should be used and how. For centuries this problem did not exist. In a relatively short time many things have come about and we have yet to come to terms with their effects. I haven't given up yet on man's ability to solve some of the problems that these tremendous advances have caused. Starvation is not caused by lack of production - The problem is poor distribution caused by economic and political problems. I think human beings should have a little more time to try to solve the problems before they throw in the towel and decide that the only solution is to commit suicide and totally annihilate the human race. I assume that you are not a Christian - your ideas are totally against the teachings of most of the major religions, including Christianity. As a Christian, I believe in the second coming and divine intervention. It is not my right to decide that human life should cease to exist any more than it is my right to decide that we should eliminate all the fish or all the animals.
Anyway, your article was interesting reading, but I think the chances of you winning over much of the population is zip to nil, so I won't worry about it.
I'm sure if nothing else you start some lively conversations:-)
>Les, I enjoyed your website. However, I am very skeptical that we as humans have the power to utterly destroy the Earth. <
If by "Earth" you mean the ball of rock going around the Sun, then maybe not. We might be able to turn it into another Mars, but it'll still be here. It's sort of like a bunch of little kids vandalizing your car: they won't be able to utterly destroy it with sticks and rocks, but that doesn't make it alright.
>I'm sure with some massive effort, we could destroy much of life as we know it, but in the grand scheme of things, what would it matter?<
This seems to be the feeling of most people. Actually life as we know it ended in the 50s, we just keep pretending otherwise. You and I will be dead before long, but don't you think it matters what happens in between?
> How much time do I have on this planet? About 80 years? What good is any of this stuff if i'm not around to enjoy it?<
Good point. Since we won't be around to enjoy what's left of Earth's natural ecosystems, we may as well die out and let other animals enjoy it. Not many of us enjoy Nature anyway: the vast majority would rather watch TV than a living forest. I feel certain that if we really did enjoy other life we wouldn't be destroying it.
> Also, I find that much of the environmental movement greatly exaggerates how detrimental we are to the planet. People like Paul Ehrlich get on the news making dire predictions about global warming and ozone depletion destroying our lives by the year 2000 and very little of it has come to pass. <
Yeah, some people thought the human body would fly apart when we reached the speed of sound. Others thought we would figure out what to do with nuclear waste before it became a problem. Some predictions were wrong, that doesn't make all of them wrong. Maybe some of the warnings helped prevent the disasters from occurring. It remains to be seem if ozone depletion is destroying our lives or not. Incidence of skin cancer has increased.
>Perhaps you remember him writing how in the 90's people would have to wear gas masks simply to go outdoors and no-one would open a window other than to commit suicide. My favorite was in grade school during the late 80's when my leftist sixth grade teacher encouraged us all to stop using aerosol hairspray, when aerosol hasn't been used in hairspray since before I was born.<
No, I don't remember those predictions. However, there are oxygen booths in cities where air pollution is particularly bad. I sometimes use a respirator when stuck in traffic. No, you don't need one to survive, but that stuff accumulates. It's even worse when I'm on my bike, but I need more air than the respirator will deliver.
I'm not sure about the propellants in hair spray and paint these days, but that's another of those "100 simple things you can do to save the planet." Things like, take shorter showers and turn out the lights so there'll be enough for your neighbor's 18 offspring. Conservation is important, but if we use half as much and double in number we will have accomplished nothing.
>My guess is we're a lot less destructive than environmental extremists claim and more destructive then people like Rush Limbaugh claim.<
With such high stakes, seems to me we should err on the side of caution.
> Anyway, all this is immaterial. My question is, do you honestly think the majority of people will ever convert to your way of thinking?<
It hasn't exactly caught on as I'd hoped. Convincing six billion people to stop breeding does seem like a rather daunting task. Most of them don't even speak English, though the VHEMT site is also in Italian. The odds may be against voluntary human extinction, but there's too much at stake to just give up and let humanity take its course.
> I must say, altruism really isn't that great of an incentive for me not to reproduce.<
Thanks for your honesty -- most folks won't admit it. There are many non-altruistic reasons to not procreate, and all the reasons I've heard for doing so are self-centered. This wouldn't matter if our reproductive choices today didn't have so great an impact on society and wildlife habitat. We all have to live somewhere, and that makes less habitat for other species.
> Perhaps if you offered some sort of cash prize.<
Cash saved by not reproducing constitutes a huge prize. Unfortunately, in the USA, a cash prize is offered for those who breed: $500 per year, per child. One presidential candidate wants to double that. Meanwhile, many men can't afford the cost of a vasectomy.
> Why should I feel any guilt for putting my survival above the survival of other animals? <
You don't have to put your survival above other animals: voluntary human extinction is a win-win solution. All we are asking is that people stop breeding -- this doesn't interfere with personal survival. In fact, more than a few parents have found that producing offspring seriously interfered with their survival.
>Animals show no such mercy to each other, why should I?<
Other animals may not show mercy when they kill something and eat it, but at least they don't make a sport out of it. They don't kill every last one, either. Estimates of extinctions today have a wide range, partly because we don't know how many species there are on Earth. There may be as few as 10 million or over 100 million, though only 1.5 to 1.8 million have been cataloged. The figure of 27,000 extinctions per year has been accepted by the National Wildlife Federation as close enough, though some biologists say it's understated. Mercy, mercy.
> What led you to this movement? <
Love and logic.
>Are you some sort of old hippy?<
A wide range of people are VHEMT Volunteers and Supporters.
>Or are you a real mad scientist? that would be cool! If you are, please send me the recipe to make one of those lobster boys I've heard so much about.<
It's hard to not get mad sometimes, especially when denial becomes too thin to cover the obvious.
>If I think of any other questions, i will send them<
Please feel free to do so.
>P.S. I like how you give line by line responses, many green maniacs just get emotional when you disagree with them. <
Shame on them. Why can't they be logical as we are?
>I don't go in for that sort of hostile exchange, and I've tried to instill the same values in my 18 children.<
Good luck instilling your values in your children -- seems like most of us think for ourselves.
>I have just noticed that some of my points are already addressed in your site. Please excuse my lack of thoroughness.<
No problem. Glad you read more.
>In response to "why breed?" immortality through progeny! I know there's no guarantee that humans will be here forever, but I want my genes to live on as long as possible.<
A friend of mine once wrote: ". . . in the grand scheme of things, what would it matter? How much time do I have on this planet? About 80 years? What good is any of this stuff if I'm not around to enjoy it?"
While I don't agree completely, I thought you might be able to relate to this sentiment. Really, our genetic makeup is carried on by others, or close enough. The greatest difference between any two Homo sapiens is a small fraction of one percent.
Those who prefer to not deal with their fear of death, and wish to create an illusion of immortality, could create non-living works which will continue to inspire future generations of humans for as long as we're here. Spread memes, not genes, as the saying goes.
>Create smarter people
While genetic engineering technology will only benefit the rich, it is the rich who run the world. When the rich are also the super-intelligent, the world is a better place. Many of our problems stem from idiots in high positions. As a result, the technology will benefit everyone, rich and poor.<
Quite the plan. Rather than question the inequities of a system which creates rich and poor , we try to make the rich better people so they oppress the poor more efficiently.
>We can create smarter people, and they will solve the Earth's problems.<
A lack of smart people isn't the problem. We already have solutions, they just aren't profitable to those aforementioned rich folks who are controlling the majority of Earth's wealth.
Elitism trumps equality, leaving the poor outside the gates. If genetic engineering could create compassionate usurpers of power, maybe it would lead to a kinder, gentler subjugation. However, it would take too long, even if the technology were available today: the new Alphas would have to grow for two or three decades before they could begin replacing the old models. The old models might have other ideas about early retirement.
You don't have to be very intelligent to figure out that the intentional creation of one more of us by anyone anywhere can't be justified at this time.
>Isn't that better than killing us all off indiscriminately?<
Voluntary human extinction doesn't involve killing us all off -- this is what we hope to avoid. Our life support systems are being degraded globally, resulting in exactly that.
A peaceful phase out would give us more opportunity to implement existing solutions.
>Fine idea my friend - let's all be green and give the earth a chance; <
Yeah, simple, huh? I can't understand why it hasn't caught on.
>but what's the point if there's no one is here to enjoy its eco-bounties.<
Many more species will have the opportunity to enjoy Earth's eco-bounties than will if we stick around. Although we may have a unique capacity for appreciation of Nature, it doesn't seem to me we use it much. Most of us would rather watch TV than a living forest. If we really enjoyed paradise, I'm sure we wouldn't be destroying it.
>Please don't feel obliged to reply - I'm a board student waiting for lunchtime and your site is the most un-politically correct thing I can access!<
Wow, they have classes for everything these days. How much can you study about boards?
>Live short and extinguish mate!<
I'm too old to live short, but really, even our longest lives aren't that long. I promise I'll extinguish some day -- been working on that since I was born.
>Peace be with you Les! I'm waiting for breaktime today!<
Ever think about how much of our lives is wasted with waiting? This ain't right.
>Perhaps this whole evolution thing is getting like one long big game of billiards: it's getting boring now so why don't we scrap it all and start again? - And I'm not just talking about humans, I mean the world!<
It's only boring because you're watching more than playing. The balls, aka life forms, are being sunk in the pockets at a rate unknown in the last 65 million years. At this rate the game will be over soon for larger animals such as ourselves. No one is going to stick a quarter in the slot and rack 'em again.
>Anyway, what do you do when you aren't e-mailing Jo-Public about V.H.E?<
I'm liable to do just about anything. Sorta scares me sometimes.
>Whilst writing this other students have asked what I am doing, I include their comments upon seeing what you said:
Dan: 'tell him he is a fucknut!'<
You might ask Dan if this level of thought indicates hope for the human race. Seems to me a good argument in favor of the concept of human extinction. Many of us these days, when faced with a new concept, simply attack the messenger with meaningless aspersions rather than trying to understand what the message is. This could be due to a large extent to the pollution in our air, water, and food affecting our mental capacities. Also, crowding into institutions causes people to behave as caged animals.
>Ben: 'is reality a taxing concept for that basic individual who mailed you?'<
The concept of reality is not taxing but the reality of reality certainly is. Look around. Is this not taxing?
I have one question for you and/or anyone who waits with you: "Why breed?"
>I decided to let Dan open today's waiting session. Apologies for his appauling spelling, punctuation, grammar, manners and general style.<
No problem, I'm used to it. As I wrote last time, toxins in the air and water are adversely affecting our abilities to think rationally.
>I am writing to tell you what a complete and utter fucking idiot you are. Im sorry but there is not finer way of saying it. I think extremists like yourself should voluntarily give their own lives up and leave us alone. <
Patience, please, I'm working on it. I've decided to commit suicide by old age. It takes a little longer, and can be painful, but there's too much work to be done to leave right now.
>You want it, you got it!. <
Thanks. Do you deliver?
>How about we do something useful with your otherwise damned lives, and experiment toxic weapons on you. <
Dan, I hate to be the one to tell you this, we are all being used as toxic substance experiments. There isn't room here to list all the untested stuff in our damned bodies.
>Should be fun, you game for a laugh Les. <
Sure. What's the punch line?
>Apart for blatently disagreeing with the complete and utter crap you write, i think that you are no more than a silly little man. <
Perhaps so, but enough about me. Did you have a point to make about the concept of voluntary human extinction?
>We should just die should we. <
Don't have much choice in that, do we? But no, we should do a lot more before we die. What we should do is up to each of us to determine.
>Being part psychologist i know that you are somewhat of a freak. <
You don't have to be a psychologist to figure that out, Doc. While a majority are rampantly breeding like humans, those of us who don't will fit one definition of "freak".
>Where have your life drives gone, well looks like you are just a fucking reject. <
Looks can be deceiving. I don't reject fucking, just conceiving.
>Shame, well evolution does show that we get rid of the wasters, like yourself. <
Homo sapiens, like myself, is a wasteful species. Yes, evolution will get rid of us. What we are proposing is a peaceful phase out of ourselves, rather than a disastrous dieoff.
>So... this concldues my complete and utter slating of the shit you write,<
That's it? I must not have received your full message. All I got was ad hominim.
>i beg you to go away and crawl into a hole, waiting for Y5B, . . . <
We're at 6B already, and are headed for 9. Yes, 5 billion would be an improvement, but I doubt I'll see that, unless the ecological collapse were are striving for comes about in my lifetime.
As a part psychologist, you are no doubt aware that people often project their wishes onto others. Perhaps you have a subconscious desire to crawl back into a hole yourself, but aren't willing to admit it. This desire is nothing to be ashamed of, many of us have it at times. The first step is to stop denying the feeling. Then the healing can begin. I wish you well.
>. . . the end of the earth as we know it.<
Seems to be the goal of humanity. That's why VHEMT exists.
>Yours with the most utter disrespect<
Are you actually disrespecting yourself, Dan? When we point a finger at someone, there are three pointing right back at ourselves.
>I too am a psychologist (A level) and so find writing to people with different opinions (buddhists, oil rig workers, VHE advocates) quite curious. Please do not be confused as to my opinions concerning you and VHE: I confess I am unsure on the VHE movement but I certainly don't have anything against those who are for it - Dan is a little over-enthusiastic most of the time. I agreed with your points about what he said last time. Still, I feel it's good to have balance in my letters<
Yeah, yank that yin.
>Anyway, let's move on from my immature friends - that's boring and VHE is marginally more interesting. How do you propose to do it should we all agree? - Drugs? Gas? Bombs?<
That's what's being done right now. The first word in VHEMT is Voluntary, so those methods aren't acceptable to us. Yes, we would all have to agree for a voluntary extinction to occur.
>I hinted in my last letter that I wanted to know if you have a job, this time let's be more assertive: 'Do you have a job or do VHE activities take up too much time?'<
Yes, I do and yes they do. I may have to give up personal replies to inquiries from website visitors, though I'd hate to do so.
>Also, how many supporters do you have? <
It's impossible to say, since we aren't a membership organization -- we're not even an organization. I can only guess from the number of people who contact me to say that they also arrived at the conclusion that the intentional creation of one more of us by anyone anywhere can't be justified at this time. Out of six billion people, I estimate two or three million have achieved this awareness so far. Only five billion, nine hundred ninety, some million to go.
Am I famous enough? I was in the _Reader's Digest_. ;-)
>From my reasonably neutral position I have considered points from both extremes (you and the likes of Dan). Congrats Les, I feel that you have totally outsmarted the writer of comments such as "you are a silly little man" and whilst I still disagree with the idea I am much more in your favour - you've somewhat opened my mind LEs.
I took your point: "I may have to give up personal replies to inquiries from website visitors, though I'd hate to do so." and so this is a more convinced Matthewsim signing off. It's been good talking to LEs: it's always good to talk to people of an extreme nature as it prevents the mind seizing up.
Keep on rockin' Les!<
Derek at Yale wrote:
>Every other form of life is just as selfish, self-centered, self-justified, and gratuituously self-pleasing as ourself. <
But can we claim ignorance, as they can? Or could if they knew what that meant.
>In fact, altruism for other species by that name is only found among the human race.<
Maybe, though many have observed what seems to be altruistic action by other species. Some of these might just be anthropomorphisms, like a dog going into a burning building to save a child -- maybe it was just hungry.
For the sake of discussion, let's assume that Homo sapiens is the only species with the capacity for altruism. It is this trait which I'm hoping will lead us to phase ourselves out for the sake of all other life on Earth.
>The only difference is that humans have evolved to be more powerful than any other large species as yet. <
Take away our clever tools and see how powerful we are. It seems to me we have evolved into an exotic invader, no longer compatible with natural ecosystems.
>In not-so-rare occasions that one species has had such power, they have used it to the extreme. How 'bout cyanobacteria that released toxix amounts of oxygen into the air, monopolizing bacterial resources? Or life itself which RUINED the wonderful barren aestheticism that our planet once claimed. We still haven't been nearly that destructive. <
Yes, but cyanobacteria didn't know any better, we do. In terms of the percent of life eliminated, that bacteria was worse than us, assuming there was life before it came along. In terms of number of species eliminated, we win -- there are far more species around today than at that time.
A mass murder like Stalin, Mao, or Kissenger might say that typhoons have killed more people than they did, but I don't think this excuses them.
>Or beavers, which cause entire ecosystems to go out of wack with thier incessant dams. They weren't about to let themselves go extinct so that the myriad of small rodents and trees in their area could live on. That why we humans did it for them. <
I know it seems like beaver cause damage, but in reality they are a keystone species in their ecosystems. Natural mountain meadows will never recover fully from our nearly complete elimination of them, but with beaver returning, those ecosystems are improving. Those dams are essential for preventing excessive erosion in the Spring snow melts.
>What's my point? You can't stop progress of any form. <
Do you call pulling strands from the web of life "progress"?
>As conscious as we claim to be, we have not too much more control over ourselves than those damn cyanobacteria. <
There are institutions awaiting those of us who have no more control over our urges than common bacteria.
> Humans will no doubt change the earth to an even greater degree than thought possible today. <
I fear you're right about this. As in the days of the Black Plague, life forms we don't even realize exist are being tampered with. We may have passed the point of no return toward a major ecological collapse. Not that we should give up and let humanity run its course -- there's too much at stake.
>We may go out and "ruin" other planets as primordial life did to ours. <
Don't worry, the space program is only for military purposes -- those scientific expeditions are to give it legitimacy: blast a teacher into space to show it's in the name of education. Our greed and lust for power will keep us focused on Earth. Energy beams might one day also be focused on Earth with the help of GPS, eliminating crime and rebellion.
>Honestly, I see greedy-eyed humans as a hoard of ants invading an abandoned bread factory. But there is a beauty to nature, (and therefore the human race) that nothing else can match. Nature made sunsets, orcas, rainforests, and waterfalls. Don't forget that Nature can also claim the mona lisa, the pantheon, the parthenon, and the Dwight D. Eisenhower Interstate Highway System. <
That's an interesting comparison. If some wacko slashed the Mona Lisa, it would be front page news all over, with outrage flowing freely. A three thousand year old tree being turned into deck furniture doesn't raise an eyebrow.
>Hey, no one shits jam.<
Monsanto is said to be working on a minor genetic alteration which could change this.
>I like your site,<
Thanks for the encouragement.
>I get from your site that you think that nature, or "Gaia", as you call it, is to be the authority by which all questions are to be answered. <
Well, not really. Gaia is a name many use for Earth's biosphere, so I've used it once or twice at the VHEMT website. I wish it didn't trigger so many assumptions because I get tired of typing out "Earth's biosphere" and would rather simply type "Gaia". The term "Nature" doesn't include as much excess baggage, unless it's capitalized.
You're not far off in saying that I think Earth's biosphere is the authority by which all questions are answered. Our survival depends on Nature's well being, which would be reason enough to stop destroying pieces of it.
>Therefore, I assume that you take nature to be an infallible intelligent force. (If nature was not infallible, would we consider it worth consulting?) <
There are those who believe that Gaia is a single life form, and I'll accept that -- in a metaphorical sense at least. Some think Gaia thinks, and others worship it, or Her, as a god. To each their own, I say. Anything is possible -- except maybe infallibility.
>I also assume that you believe that man evolved as a part of nature. (Otherwise, you have to assume another force that can overpower "our" nature. What would that be?)
Who knows? A petrie dish in some mad scientist's lab? Most likely we evolved as a part of Nature, and have evolved into a virtual exotic invader to the very environment which allowed our creation.
>If nature is infallible, and man evolved as a part of nature, then you must conclude that mankind and whatever mankind does is exactly what nature wants, and your angst about what you see as the destruction of nature is misplaced. If what you see as being the correct natural world is being destroyed, then given the above it can only be because nature doesn't need such a world anymore, because now nature has man.<
By golly, you might be right. Gaia was asking for it. She created the reality that lead to her rape. She should have known better. She has a death wish. It's not our fault.
Seriously though, This concept of infallibility doesn't apply to Gaia. The Pope can claim it if he needs to. Some try to justify even the most evil deeds by saying that, since it happened, it must have been fated to be. I think you and I can see through that ploy.
>Did Mt. St. Helens feel remorse about the thousands of trees and critters it destroyed?<
They say humans are the only species which can feel remorse, or to has reason to. Well, maybe they don't say that, but let's just pretend they did, who's gonna know?
What happened when Mt. Saint Helens blew probably didn't bring about the extinction of any species. It's a cycle in the long term existence of healthy volcanic ecosystems.
>Your standpoint seems to me to say, "nature is too good to allow man to destroy it, but too weak to defend itself, and too stupid to know what it is doing". <
I can see how it might seem like that's what I'm saying. Yes, Nature is too good -- too precious and rare -- for me to not protest its destruction. No, Nature is not too weak to defend itself. One of the blessings of voluntary human exctinction would be avoidance of the massive die off which always follows a species' over shoot of its carrying capacity.
Since voluntary human extinction doesn't look too likely at this point, a die off may not be avoided. This is why the intentional creation of one more of us by anyone anywhere can't be justified. It's the moral equivalent of renting rooms in a burning building -- renting to our children, no less.
>Well, I know one should not respond to a question with a question, but why is it desirable to return the earth to its former glory, to paraphrase your movement?<
Your question gets at the root motivation for VHEMT, so it's a good place to start. Sometimes we forget that the foundation of an idea might not be obvious to others. Maybe I should add an explanation to the web site.
I can't speak for all VHEMT Volunteers, but it seems to me we have a moral obligation to undo the damage we've done to Earth's natural environment. Many people today habitually foul their nests and then move on. It's a modern version of the slash and burn system which was viable for as long as Nature could restore an area before people came back around to the same place. Today, people pay cleaning deposits for the privilege of leaving a mess behind, but our civilization as a whole isn't held accountable. I'm sure you don't need a list of where we've converted ecosystems into lifeless zones. If one sees nothing wrong with this, then the VHEMT plan to restore Earth's biosphere probably won't make sense.
Even if one sees nothing wrong with destroying other species and their habitat, it might help to remember that humanity depends on the web of life to survive. We can't continue to remove strands from the web and expect to avoid a disastrous fall.
>Other than your person preference, there is no reason. I think a lot of people have children for the wrong reasons. On the other hand, not having children for voluntary human extinction would be a wrong reason not to have children.<
I'm still looking for that good reason to create a new human. In light of conditions for planet and people today, I don't see how the intentional creation of one more of us by anyone anywhere can be justified.
As far as mitigating the environmental impact of our species goes, it doesn't matter why someone refrains from further procreation: each person not created saves a lifetime of consumption and production of toxic waste.
>If we were to limit ourselves to one child, the human population would contract over time.<
The key term is "over time". Population growth has a momentum which is hard to describe. China's one-child policy has lowered birth rates dramatically, but the population is still growing. One way to look at it is, if one couple has 10 off-spring, the increase is 10. If each of them has only one, the increase is still 10, although the birth-rate has dropped to one tenth of the previous rate.
There are several reasons why advocating a one child average won't do the job:
1) I question whether we have the time to wait for population to peak and begin to shrink. Ecological conditions are becoming worse as more strands are removed from the web of life.
2) Which brings us to another reason: the world we would be sentencing a loved one to life in isn't all that great. The future isn't what it used to be. I think intentional procreation today is the moral equivalent of selling berths on a sinking ship.
3) Each new human we bring into the world, especially in North America, will have a detrimental effect on the natural world: wildlife habitat destruction, resource extraction, and production of toxic waste.
4) To say it's okay to create even one more of us is to say that things aren't really so bad. Well, they are.
>technology takes what seems to be it's logical course now, we could have fusion power in the future, which really would be a panacea. <
The problem is that all energy converts to heat eventually, and heat, as we are finding out the hard way, is a pollutant. A cold fusion process for generating energy could reduce the environmental impact of our industries, but it could also allow manipulations of Earth's biosphere on an even grander scale -- depending on whether we arrive at a higher level of awareness before we get it or after. The industrial revolution was fueled by coal, which polluted the air, but if a "non-polluting" energy source had been used, the impact of that revolution would only be slightly mitigated.
>We might actually be able to have a population of a few hundred million and very minimal negative impact on earth.<
A smaller population would certainly help. However, when we were hunting and gathering at the close of the last ice age, we may have pushed a few fragile species into extinction. In ancient times, our numbers were smaller, but we managed to convert the Fertile Crescent and the Cedars of Lebanon into deserts. The Sahara and the Gobi may have been caused by ancient civilizations. We don't need to be as numerous or possess "advanced technology" to destroy huge ecosystems.
Also, as long as there is one breeding couple around, there's the danger of us increasing to where we are now in 20,000 years.
>Let's look at it from another perspective: We decide to go extinct. You know very well this could never happen voluntarily, but for the sake of argument, let's say we go extinct.
Australopithecus Africanus lived 2 million years ago. Let's say that from existing primates, it takes a pessimistic million years to get another a. africanus, a human ancestor. So we're 3 million years from another sapient species. What will they do? Exactly what we have done. <
Studies of the Great Apes indicate that they are as intelligent as Homo sapiens. They just don't interact with their environments as we do. We alter environments to suit our greeds while they alter their activities to suit their needs. Primitive peoples behaved similarly, but were only a plow away from beginning to change everything.
>Every organism's primary motivation is survival and they will exploit their environment just as readily as we have - and fail to develop a conscience for it until they have advanced in their technology quite far, just as we have.<
We can't tell if it's a lack of consciousness that prevents, say, whales from altering their environments. Perhaps it's just the opposite. Have we developed a level of consciousness adequate for humanely managing our level of technology? We can't even get land mines outlawed. Weapons of mass destruction have been ruled illegal by international courts, and yet nukes abound. We're getting there, and I hope we continue making progress as we phase out.
>The difference will be, they will have far less fossil fuel to work with. They'll be stuck with the plentifully available coal. Oil will very likely be scarce. It will take longer for them to advance in technology to where we are now. It would take them longer to reach the theoretical panacea that allows us to stop worrying - fusion or some similar deux ex machina. <
Vast civilizations of ancient times didn't need coal, oil, or radiation. It's only when we become so dense that we need massive energy sources.
>So what's the difference? Evolution marches on, and if it's not us, it will be some other species that exploits the Earth. That conclusion doesn't please me, but as far as I can tell it follows the logic you exhort me to use on your site.... Tell me why I should expect that another sapient species won't come along in another 3 million years, even though it's already happened once.<
It's true that another species could become the next tool-wielding ape after we die out. There's no way of knowing, nor of preventing it in advance. However, I don't think this justifies our continued existence. Many evil deeds are done with the excuse that someone else will do it if we don't do it.
>I really would enjoy a discourse on this if you have time. I really, honestly believe deeply in the cause that you are working for, contraction of the human population, and I'd like you to talk me out of my position. <
You are probably right about it being unlikely that humans will voluntarily phase ourselves out. What we have to work on is awareness. By stating that humans should become extinct, maybe people will realize how drastic it is to bring about the extinction of 27,000 non-human species per year. By saying that the intentional creation of one more of us by anyone anywhere can't be justified, perhaps people will reconsider the impact of their redundant breeding.
>I am troubled by your lack of vision. More specifically, I wonder about your very limited world view, focussing solely on this planet.
They say we should clean up our own back yards first, but then They say a lot of things, huh? I am concerned about the rest of the Universe: If we ever spread our kind to other planets we're liable to have the same effects there. As I am sure you know, the population of the universe, statistically speaking, is zero. <
Yes, when one averages out the six billion humans with the immenseness of time and space, we round off to zero. However, when we divide up the portions of planet Earth which still have a bit of wildness to them, I think the result is, statistically speaking, way too many.
>Obviously, human existence is such an insignificant blip on the evolutioary scale of the universe that your cause seems to be one hellofa windmill at which to be tilting.<
Hmmm. I'm not sure how an insignificant blip can be a hellava windmill at the same time. True, the goal of convincing six billion people to stop breeding looms as mightily as Quixotic windmills, but I feel that we have to try.
>And besides, I am the only being that really exists anyway, and all of you are products of my infinitely powerful mind. <
This is a possibility, however, I give it too low a degree of probability to act upon.
>So what I'm saying is don't worry about it.<
This seems to be the approach favored by the majority of humans, especially those with the responsibility of correcting past errors. Denial won't make things better, it just gives us a little uneasy rest. We have to wake up sometime.
>The ideas promoted at your VHEMT website are without doubt entertaining and though provoking, but also flawed, both logically and philosophically. <
Thanks. Provoking thought is the main idea. I'd much rather someone thoughtfully disagreed than mindlessly agreed with the VHEMT concept.
>Let's start with the logical: No one has even come close to proving that A) The number of species on this planet is decreasing <
The fact that species are going extinct at a rate unknown in 65 Million years is well established. The conservative National Wildlife Federation estimates that 27,000 species go extinct each year due to human activity.
If you chose to ignore the data and believe that this hasn't been proved, then VHEMT is not actually faulty logic -- it's sound logic based on faulty data.
>or B) That even if the number of species on this planet is decreasing it is because of us humans <
Even if the scientific community didn't agree on this, I think it's obvious when we look around that wildlife habitat has largely been converted to human habitat. Without habitat, species die off.
>and C) Even if the number of species is decreasing and even if it is because of us humans that it would stop if we would no longer be there. <
On this we agree. Even if not one more human were to be born, we
could still continue to destroy ecosystems. By the time all of us
died out there wouldn't be much left of the natural world -- unless
we change our orientation from human-centered to Earth-centered. As
the ecological disasters of the past show, we don't need six billion
to cause massive damage.
[I misread Maurice's point "C". He is correct that extinctions would continue after we are gone. "Spiralling extinctions" or a "domino effect" will continue diminishing biodiversity for hundreds of years, even after we have stopped causing them. Eventually, the rate will return to the normal background rate, with sudden spasms due to natural Earth events and extraterrestrial influences. Les]
>All we can say is that the planet's eco-system is changing, but to merely react to this change with fear and loathing is a kind of eco-conservatism than can be thrown on the same heap as religious, sexual and racial conservatism. <
What good are our brains if we don't use them to figure out what's right and wrong? If we can't use them to see that the planet's eco-system is being changed by us, we are shirking our responsibility. When atmospheric temperatures raise due to our industrialization and cause drastic weather changes, can we reject a reaction of fear and loathing simply because it's too conservative? Of course it's conservative: we're trying to conserve and preserve what's left of Nature.
>Whether change is good or bad is all in the eye of the beholder. To think that it is bad that some 'higher order' species are becoming extinct is a very human-centric point of view. The point of view that only values that what is like us. <
I agree. When people only care about fuzzy creatures going extinct, it's rather human-centered. Most pitches for saving wildlife include something like, "For our children's sake." Not for the lifeforms' sake. The VHEMT plan seeks to avoid the extinction of millions of life forms, not just cute frogs.
Public relations firms hired by resource extraction companies use the reasoning that "Whether change is good or bad is all in the eye of the beholder." They might say, "We are enhancing the forests by making them accessible to more families to enjoy." They claim a "partnership with Nature." Sure, it's a one-sided partnership, but who's to say a monoculture tree farm is not as "good" as an ancient forest ecosystem? Those 2,000 year old redwoods Maxxam is liquidating will grow back in time. It's all in the eye of the beholder.
>That brings us to the philosophical argument against VHEMT. For centuries humans have though of themselfs as the pinnacle of creation living on a planet at the center of the universe. At least some of us realize nowadays that this is not true. We are merely one of a number of practically indistinghuisable liveforms on a remote planet in a remote galaxy.<
Each species alive today could be considered the pinnacle of its evolutionary development. But I think there are distinctions between life forms which we must make. If the slugs in my garden were indistinguishable from humans, I would be a mass murderer this morning.
Using a balance scale, like Justice holds in her hand, place all the species going extinct on one side and Homo sapiens on the other. Survival of Earth's biosphere depends on biodiversity; on a wide variety of species. Even if we are 100 times more important; or 100 thousand times more important; the scales tips in favor of the other species.
Actually, we are far less critical to the web of life than, for example, the microscopic bacteria in the intestines of termites. The higher up the food chain a species, the more expendable it is. It's a tragedy that most mammalian carnivores are going extinct, but the web of life can continue without them. Now our toxic chemicals are affecting more critical strands on the web; some of which we don't even realize exist.
>Earth is like a scummy pebble on the beach of the universe and nothing would care whether one type of scum kills the other or whether a wave comes to wash it all away. The only thing that cares about live on our planet is us humans! Do you think a blue whale cares about the extinction of the bald eagle? Of course not. Humans are the only species we know capable of actually caring about other species, as VHEMT clearly demonstrates.<
Yes, VHEMT is the embodiment of our capacity to care about other species than our own. I have to note, however, that the VHEMT concept hasn't exactly caught on.
Other living beings can be excused from not caring about each other -- humanity has no excuse for callous disregard of life we can't utilize.
>If humans had existed would we have tried to save the dinosaurs? Yes! Who will save the world from other disasters but us? Get rid of humans and you might as well get rid of everything else, because who would care. In fact without humans all that would be left is a bunch of utterly selfish liveforms that do not give one ounce about one another.<
Do we really try to save other species? Some of us won't even acknowledge the fact that they are going extinct, or that our activities are causing it. We can't save the world from disasters while pretending the disasters are from the gods.
>You replied in great detail detail to my brief initial email. Why not a similar reply to the second email I sent which was far more detailed and critical of your ideas.<
As it turns out, I had almost finished my reply when time caught up with me.
>You keep referring to VHEMT as a movement and as "we." I don't believe this for a minute. I think you are a guy sitting alone in a room somewhere. If you really are a movement, prove it. List other members of your "group" on your website.<
There are no members, no organization, and I have no plans to list everyone who has written to let me know that they too have come to the same conclusion.
However, a new section at the VHEMT website titled, "Agreements" should fill the information void you have pointed out -- when I get the revision completed.
On 15 Jun 2000 you wrote:
>Your ideas are shared by a handful of naive, hormone-ravaged kids looking for a cause, not millions of people. <
We're all entitled to our opinions, however, when I apply the number of favorable messages I receive to the general population, I figure we constitute 0.05% of humanity: about three million. This includes those who aren't in favor of our extinction, but who realize that the intentional creation of one more of us by anyone anywhere can't be justified at this time.
>Hyperbolic, self-agrandizing statements such as this merely confirm my categorization of you as a "kook." I'm not using that term just to be dismissive, you really fit the bill. For a good discussion of what a kook is, read the book " High Weirdness by Mail."<
Yes, that's a fun book too, though I prefer Donna Kossy's definition and her distinction between kooks and cranks. As a great American once said, "I am not a crank." At any rate, back to the concept of voluntary human extinction.
>I am an ardent environmentalist who strongly believes in wise stewardship of the planet. I'm an almost rabid supporter of biodiversity. However, I am not an unthinking romantic or a misguided misanthrope like you. <
I think the notion that humanity could someday achieve the level of awareness and compassion to phase ourselves out for the sake of all other life is indeed a romantic one. If I were a misanthrope I wouldn't be bothering with voluntary methods.
>In fact, I am scientist (Ph. D., serious publications, faculty position-all the usual credentials). My environmental views are close to those of E. O. Wilson or Peter Raven (also scientists). <
That's great -- then you might get the opportunity to talk with E.O. Wilson in person at a conference. He doesn't dare say publicly what he really feels about Homo sapiens sapiens and our effects on Earth's biosphere: he'd be called a kook. I'd like to ask him how likely it is that we have already passed the point of no return toward a major ecological collapse. By this I mean 50% or more of Earth's 10 to 100 million species go extinct -- all higher order species, including us, gone.
>The real world of real organisms is a Darwinian/Jack London type of world where nature is "red in tooth and claw." Lives are full of fear and they are nasty, brutish, and short. <
Whew! Glad we're not like that. Well, except for the 40,000 children who die from a lack of care on an average day. Oh, and those in refugee camps, and in war zones, and areas devastated by human-enhanced natural disasters or toxic waste. Also excluding the one to two billion of us who are undernourished. Maybe we should include in this exclusion the billion of us who are malnourished because we have so much to eat, too. At least we can have rewarding lives in our safe little cubicles.
Actually, it seems to me that wildlife doesn't live in fear as we do. Their fight or flight mechanisms activate and then shut down when the danger passes. Our dangers never pass because we know too much. We know we're going to die, and some of us worry about that. I doubt any other species does. They don't stress over mortgage payments either, though their habitat may be more at risk than ours.
>The deer would love to have the wolf self-exterminate and the mouse the owl. <
They wouldn't if they understood the balance of populations. Where the wolf has been eliminated, deer have not fared well.
>The case you present could be used to argue that the dinosaurs should have self-exterminated because they dominated the planet and other species suffered. Or, get this, maybe bacteria should self-destruct. Their biomass is far greater than ours, many bacteria cause pain to other organisms, etc.<
The argument in favor of our extinction isn't that we cause pain and suffering, it's that we are eliminating other species. Sorry I didn't make that clear. Although we do torture animals in "research," and kill them for sport, our biggest crime is causing the extinction of, what's the latest ballpark figure? 27,000 per year? If you have another one I'll accept that. Pulling strands from the web of life while increasing our demands on it will lead to a major ecological collapse. I know you have this information, so please don't feel I'm being pedantic. I'm just trying to clarify why so many of us feel we should stop breeding, for now at least.
>As far as we know, we are the only intelligent life to ever evolve in the entire universe. This makes us rare and precious. <
I detect a conflict of interest in our judging this contest for intelligence.
>If you think that is something that should be exterminated you are one vicious, nihilistic bastard.<
Nah, nah, takes one to know one. Seriously though, as someone who understands the dynamic symbiosis of ecosystems, why do you pick "intelligence" as such an important aspect? There are other criteria we could choose in determining relative degrees of rare and precious. The Bengal tiger is far more rare than Homo sapiens. Keystone species are more precious in that entire ecosystems are disrupted when they disappear. Would our exit leave an empty niche in any biological system?
How great are we? 100 times greater than the next greatest? 1,000 times? How about we give ourselves a 100,000 times advantage over any other species on Earth? We are wiping out indigenous species at a rate unknown since the dinosaurs' demise 65 million years ago. If you use the balance scale like blind Justice holds, place us on one side, and all the species going extinct on the other, the sales will tip in favor of our extinction, even with our weighted advantage.
>I think that a more humanitarian view would be that of humans being a part of the ecosystem. Obviously if we can leave such large impacts on the envirnment we too must represent a portion. <
Perhaps this is a matter of how we define "being a part of" Earth's biosphere. We could be a part of nature in the same way that a timber company is a part of the forest. We could be a part of nature in the same way a farmer is part of the farm. We could be part of nature the same way, say, an otter is: eating sea urchins and being eaten by sharks.
In my opinion, we were once like the otter, part of the ecosystem. Then we started farming and now we've become like exotic invaders, no longer part of nature, though we depend on it and impact it.
>The idea of systematically destroying the entire human race is bogus. <
I fully agree. This destruction and involuntary extinction we are headed for is far worse that just bogus. Rather, I think we have the rational ability to stop our race toward oblivion. We also have the compassion to do what is necessary to preserve the rest of Earth's biosphere.
>Look at it this way
1. If humans evolved, then we are obviously part of the ecosystem. or....
2. If humans were created by a divine being (as I balieve) then it is humans that have the right to govern the enviornment as we please. The human race should then do everything that we can to help the environment.<
Why not both? Couldn't a divine being use 3.5 billion years of evolution to create the life forms which exist today?
I don't see how it follows that, since we were created by God, we can do what we want with all of God's other creations. "Having dominion over" certainly doesn't mean driving to extinction.
> If humans learn how to help other life forms we can actually make the world a better place for them and help them increase their numbers. <
Helping other life forms has become a necessity, but only because of our existence. If we had just left things alone, they would be fine. No one knows how many species are going extinct due our activities, but the conservative National Wildlife Federation estimates 27,000 per year are disappearing forever. I don't think we can arrogantly hold that God wants us to do this.
>I feel that what you represent is quiting and that humans are sporadic generating beings. <
Actually, I think continuing along our present path constitutes quitting. But, there are some bad habits we should quit.
>Where do you believe that humans came from?? <
Since our genetic make-up is so close to other primates, I think we probably originated on Earth. We're so different, it makes one wonder if we're from another planet.
>I feel that humans are divine beings that are not disposable. Your idea is that of blsphemy, playing God.<
It seems to me that claiming humans are divine beings is playing God. Altering God's creation to suit our greeds really seems blasphemous if anything is.
Perhaps, as you say, we are not disposable. If there is an afterlife, this temporal existence is not the end. Moving on to other realms could be part of God's plan as the apostle Paul wrote in II Corinthians 5:1-6.
On 04 Feb 2000 Rust wrote:
>It seems to me that you are very much a person who believes that the end justifies the means.<
If all I cared about was the ends, I wouldn't be trying to go about human extinction voluntarily. The means in this case is very important to the success of VHEMT. Voluntary is the first word in The Movement -- except in Italian, where it's the last word.
>It is undeniable that the Human population explosion is a radical unbalancing factor in the world's ecosystem. Humanity upsets the Gaia theory, converting more resources for itself rather than allowing availability to govern it.<
Which wouldn't be so bad in itself, but we are diminishing biodiversity as we do it.
>However, advocating the extinction of the Human race is bleak and heartless, <
Don't forget the voluntary part.
>as well as being a path that is improbable to the point offutility.<
Yeah, it hasn't exactly caught on as I'd hoped. Convincing six billion people to stop breeding does seem like a rather daunting task. Most of them don't even speak English, though the website is also in Italian. The odds may be against voluntary human extinction, but there's too much at stake to just give up and let humanity take its course.
>Has it occurred to you to advocate a less radical program? <
Like, pandering to society's existing misconceptions? That's already being done.
> Education and family planning can help to reduce the Human population to reasonable levels, without such entropic thinking. Form a goal that people are willing to work towards, and perhaps you'll find a stronger following. <
We're more interested in leading than following.
>Very few (statistically speaking) will deliberately follow you into extinction.<
Each and every one of the people alive today will follow our ancestors into dusty death. All we are suggesting is that they don't create another to do the same.
>"All or nothing" thinking is part of what makes Humanity so dangerous in the first place. <
You're not alone in thinking this. VHEMT Supporters, as distinct from Volunteers, are not in favor of our extinction. Generally, Supporters agree that the intentional creation of one more of us by anyone anywhere can't be justified today, but maybe when our density is improved enough to be sustainable, we can rethink our breeding.
Perhaps by considering our own extinction, some may more fully appreciate what the extinction of other species means. The big thicket hog-nosed skunk and Steller's sea cow may be difficult for us to identify with, but then so are some people's in-laws.
> There is no need to destroy this race, when management will suffice.<
If management would suffice. The tricky part would be to keep our numbers down to that point. It was only 10 or 12 thousand years ago our density was low enough to be sustainable. Even then, each time Homo sapiens entered a new continent, extinctions followed. It may have been our diseases as much as our hunting, but whatever we did, it wasn't good for the regional ecosystems. We continue with new methods and are bringing about the sixth great spasm of extinctions.
>Before you get any ideas about me defending my right to breed, I should point out that I do not intend to ever father a child, due to my genetic weakness. <
Congratulations! You are doing much to conserve resources and ease crowding, as well as avoiding additional encrachment into wildlife habitat.
> I am defending Humanity, and common decency.<
So am I. Common decency for all life.
>PS: [Les wrote] "Even 12,000 years ago, when our numbers were small, it's likely we hunted some species to extinction."
Have you actually been checking your facts?<
The fossil record speaks clearly. We could dismiss one continent as a coincidence, but not all of them.
This site has an interesting table on it which shows the different times that the Pleistocene Extinctions started in different places. [Years before present]
The following explanation is under the chart:
"This excludes any global catastrophe or climatic change as an explanation.
In all of these cases except Africa, the extinctions occurred shortly after the first arrival of prehistoric humans. The first humans were faced with animals that had evolved in the absence of human predators, and the animals were probably easily overcome.
Therefore, the most plausible explanation is that these extinctions were caused by overexploitation by human hunters.
This site has an interesting graph co-relating extinctions of mammals and birds with the increase in human populations since 1650A.D . . ."
>We are the instruments of creation - what we dream, is.<
That would explain a lot.
For a better world,