Home » Environmentalism » Environmental movements » Voluntary Human Extinction Movement

Voluntary Human Extinction Movement

The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement ( VHEMT [A] ) is an international movement that calls for all people to abstain from the cause of gradual voluntary extinction of humankind . VHEMT supports human extinction primarily because it would prevent environmental degradation . The group states that a decrease in the human population would prevent a significant amount of human-caused suffering. The extinctions of non-human species and the scarcity of human resources are frequently cited by the group as evidence of the harm caused by human overpopulation .

VHEMT was founded in 1991 by the U. Knight, an American activist who became involved in the environmental movement in the 1970s and thereafter concluded that human extinction was the best solution to the problems facing the Earth’s biosphere.and humanity. Knight publishes the group’s newsletter and serves as its spokesman. Although the group is promoted by a website and represented at some environmental events, it relies heavily on coverage to other media to spread its message. Many commentators view its platform as unacceptably extreme, though other writers have applauded VHEMT’s perspective. In response to VHEMT, some journalists and academics have argued that humans can develop sustainable lifestyles or can reduce their population to sustainable levels. Others maintain that, whatever the merits of the idea, the human reproductive drive will prevent humankind from ever voluntarily seeking extinction.


The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement was founded by U. Knight, [2] [3] [B] a high school substitute teacher who lives in Portland, Oregon . [2] Knowing the most of the dangers faced by the planet to human overpopulation. [2] [5]He joined the Zero Population Growth Organization, [2] and was more likely to be vasectomised at age 25. [5] He later concluded that the extinction of humanity would be the best solution to the Earth’s environmental problems. [2]He believes that this idea has been held by all people throughout human history. [6]

Voluntary Human Extinguishing Movement cartoon by Nina Paley

In 1991, Knight began publishing VHEMT’s newsletter, [2] known as These Exit Times . [3] In the newsletter, he asked for more information on human extinction by not procreating. [2] VHEMT has also published cartoons, [7] including a comic strip titled “Bonobo Baby”, featuring a woman who is a child in favor of adopting a bonobo . [3] In 1996, Knight created a website for VHEMT; [8] It was available in 11 languages by 2010. [9] VHEMT’s logo features the letter “V” (for voluntary) and an inverted Earth (ie, with north at the bottom). [10] [C]

Organization and promotion

VHEMT functions as a loose network rather than a formal organization, [11] and does not compile a list of members. Daniel Metz of Willamette University stated in 1995 that VHEMT’s mailing list had just under 400 subscribers. [2] Six years later, Fox News said the list had only 230 subscribers. [12] Knight says that anyone who agrees with his ideology is a member of the movement; [2] and that this includes “millions of people”. [13] [D]

Knight serves the spokesman for VHEMT. [2] He expects environmental conferences and events, where he publicizes information about population growth. [9] VHEMT’s message has, however, been spread through coverage by media outlets, rather than events and its newsletter. [8] VHEMT sells buttons and T-shirts, [8] as well as bumper stickers That read “Thank you for not breeding”. [3]


We’re the only species that is consciously going to be extinct for the good of all life, or which needs to.

VHEMT Website [15]

Knight argues that the human population is far greater than the earth can handle, and that the best thing for earth’s biosphere is for humans to voluntarily cease reproducing. [16] He says that humans are “incompatible with the biosphere” [3] and that human existence is causing environmental damage that will eventually bring about the extinction of humans (and other organisms). [17]According to Knight, the vast majority of human societies have not experienced sustainable lifestyles , [5] and attempts to live environmentally friendly lifestyles do not change the fact that human existence is destructive to the earth and many of human organisms. [3]Voluntary human extinction is promoted on the grounds that it will prevent human suffering and the extinction of other species ; Knight points out that many species are threatened by the increasing human population. [2] [12] [16]

James Ormrod, a psychologist who profiled the group in the journal Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society , notes that the “most fundamental belief” of VHEMT is that “human beings should stop reproducing”, and that some people consider themselves members of the group. not actually support human extinction. [8] Knight, however, believes that even if humans become more environmentally friendly, they could still return to environmentally destructive lifestyles and hence should be self-reliant. [5] Residents of First World countries bear the greatest responsibility for change, according to Knight, as they consume the largest proportion of resources. [18]

Knight believes that Earth’s non-human bodies have a higher overall value than humans and their accomplishments, such as art: “The plays of Shakespeare and the work of Einstein can not hold a candle to a tiger”. [3] He argues that species higher in the food chain are less important than lower species. [3] His ideology is drawn in part from deep ecology , and he sometimes refers to the Earth as Gaia . [19] He notes that human extinction is unavoidable, and that it is becoming extinct soon to prevent the extinction of other animals. [16] The potential for evolution of other organisms is also cited as a benefit. [8]

Knight sees abstinence from reproduction as an altruistic choice [5] – a way to prevent involuntary human suffering [20] – and cites the deaths of children from preventable causes as an example of needless suffering. [5] Knight claims that non-reproduction would eventually allow humans to lead idyllic lifestyles in an environment comparable to the Garden of Eden , [21] and that the latter would be proud of their accomplishment. [22] Other benefits of ceasing human reproduction include the end of abortion, war, and starvation. [21] Knight argues that “procreation today is de facto child abuse”.[19] It maintains the standard of human life in the future. [19] He speculates that if they cured to reproduce, they would use their energy for other pursuits, [3] and suggest adoption and foster care as outlets for people who desire children. [5]

VHEMT rejects government-mandated human population control programs in favor of voluntary population reduction, [2] supporting the use of contraception and willpower to prevent pregnancies. [3] Knight states that coercive tactics are unlikely to survive the human population, citing the fact that humanity has survived catastrophic wars, famines, and viruses. [9] But their newsletter’s name recalls the Final Exit suicide manual , [17] the idea of ​​mass suicide is rejected, [18] and they adopted the slogan “May we live long and die out”. [5]A 1995 survey of VHEMT members found that a majority of them felt strongly about protecting the earth, and that they were willing to surrender some of their rights for their cause. VHEMT members who strongly believe that “Civilization [is] headed for collapse” were most likely to embrace these views. [23] However, VHEMT does not take any overt political stances. [8]

VHEMT promotes a more extreme ideology than Population Action International , a group that argues humanity should reduce-but not eliminate its population to care for the Earth. However, the VHEMT platform is more moderate and serious than the Church of Euthanasia , which advocates population reduction by suicide and cannibalism. [12] [21] The 1995 survey found that 36% considered themselves members of Earth First! or had been donated to the group in the previous five years. [24]


Knight states his group’s ideology runs counter to contemporary society’s natalism . He believes this pressure has stopped many people from supporting, or even discussing, population control. [5] He admits that his group is unlikely to succeed, but contends that attempting to reduce the Earth’s population is the only moral option. [3]

Reception of Knight’s idea in the mainstream media has been mixed. Writing in the San Francisco Chronicle , Gregory Dicum states that there is an undeniable logic in VHEMT’s arguments, but he doubts whether it can succeed, argue that many people desire to have children and can not be dissuaded. [5] Stephen Jarvis echoes this skepticism in the Independent , noting that VHEMT faces great difficulty owing to the basic human reproductive drive. [3] At the Guardian ‘ s website, Guy Dammann Applauds the movement’s aim as “in Many Ways laudable” goal Argues That It is absurd to Believe That humans will seek Voluntarily extinction. [25]Freelance writer Abby O’Reilly writes that VHEMT’s goal is difficult to attain. [26] Knight contends in response to arguments That thesis though sexual desire is natural, human desire for children is a product of enculturation . [3]

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York has criticized Knight’s platform, arguing that the existence of humanity is divinely ordained. [12] Ormrod claims that Knight “arguably abandons deep ecology in favor of straightforward misanthropy”. He notes that Knight ‘s claim that the last humans in an extinction scenario would have an abundance of resources promoting their cause based on “increased benefits to humans”. Ormrod sees this type of argument as counter-intuitive, arguing that it borrows the language of late-modern consumer societies. He does not know what to do in order to develop a consistent and unambiguous ideology. [19] The EconomistCharacterizes Knight’s claim that voluntary human extinction is advisable due to limited resources as “Malthusian bosh”. The paper further states that compassion for the planet does not necessarily require the pursuit of human extinction. [2] Frank Furedi sociologist also deems VHEMT to be a Malthusian group, classifying them as a type of environmental organization that “[thinks] the worst about the human species”. [27] Writing in Spiked , Josie Appleton Argues que le group is indifferent to humanity, Rather than “anti-human”. [28]

Brian Bethune writes in Maclean’s Knight’s logic is “as absurd as it’s unassailable”. However, he doubts Knight’s claim that the last survivors of the human race would have pleasant lives and suspects that a “collective loss of the will to live” would prevail. [21] In response to Knight’s platform, journalist Sheldon Richman argues that humans are “active agents” and can change their behavior. He contends that people are capable of solving the problems facing Earth. [16] Alan Weisman , author of The World Without Us , suggests a better alternative to abstinence from reproduction. [21]

Katharine Mieszkowski of Salon.com recommends that childless people adopt VHEMT’s arguments when facing “probing questions” about their childlessness. [29] Writing in the Journal for Critical Animal Studies , Carmen Dell’Aversano notes that VHEMT seeks to renounce children as a symbol of perpetual human progress. She casts the movement as a form of “queer oppositional politics” because it rejects perpetual reproduction as a form of motivation. She argues that the motion seeks to come up to a new definition of “civil order,” as Lee Edelman suggests that queer theory should. Dell’Aversano believes that VHEMT fulfills Edelman ‘rather than ideas that focus on the reproduction of the past. [30]

ALTHOUGH Knight’s organization has-been featured in a book titled Kooks: A Guide to the Outer Limits of Human Belief , [2] The Guardian journalist Oliver Burkeman Notes That in a phone call Knight Seems “Rather sane and self-deprecating.” [31] Weisman echoes this feeling, characterizing Knight as “thoughtful, soft-spoken, articulate, and quite serious”. [28] Philosophers Steven Best and Douglas Kellner view VHEMT’s stance as extreme, but they note that the movement in extreme stances found in “modern humanism”. [32]

See also

  • Antinatalism
  • Carrying capacity
  • childfree
  • Earth liberation
  • Deep ecology
  • David Benatar , an advocate of antinatalism
  • Green anarchy
  • Nature worship
  • Negative Population Growth
  • Radical environmentalism


  1. Jump up^ VHEMT is pronounced “vehement”, [1] Because, selon Knight, That Is What They are. [2]
  2. Jump up^ Knight denies that he is the founder, saying that “I’m not the founder of VHEMT, I just gave it a name.” [4]
  3. Jump up^ VHEMT states that the inverted Earth represents the radical shift in the direction of movement, and notes that upside down emblems are often used as symbols of distress. [10]
  4. Jump up^ On its website, VHEMT characterizes the participants in its movement as “volunteer”, “supporter”, or “undecided”, for each share of interest in the world. [14]


  1. Jump up^ Pesca, Mike (May 12, 2006). “All Choked Up” . NPR . Retrieved January 7, 2012 .
  2. ^ Jump up to:o “Sui genocide” . The Economist . December 17, 1998 . Retrieved January 7, 2012 .
  3. ^ Jump up to:m Jarvis, Stephen (April 24, 1994). “Long live and die out: Stephen Jarvis encounters the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement” . The Independent . Retrieved January 7, 2012 .
  4. Jump up^ “Personal information about U. Knight” . The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement . Retrieved March 23, 2012 .
  5. ^ Jump up to:j Dicum Gregory (November 16, 2005). “Maybe None” . San Francisco Chronicle . Retrieved January 7, 2012 .
  6. Jump up^ Ormrod 2011, p. 142.
  7. Jump up^ “Sites answer 300 million questions” . Bar Montpelier Times Argus . October 22, 2006. Archived from the original on October 19, 2013 . Retrieved March 9, 2012 .
  8. ^ Jump up to:f Ormrod 2011 , p. 143.
  9. ^ Jump up to:c Weisman 2010 , p. 310.
  10. ^ Jump up to:b “Symbolism of the logo for the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement” . Voluntary Human Extinction Movement . Retrieved January 22, 2012 .
  11. Jump up^ Ormrod 2011, pp. 142-3.
  12. ^ Jump up to:d Michael Y. Park (July 29, 2001). “Pushes Anti-People Group for Man’s Extinction” . Foxnews.com . Archived from the original on April 29, 2011 . Retrieved February 19, 2012 .
  13. Jump up^ “About The Movement – When and how did VHEMT start?” . The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement . Retrieved January 23, 2012 .
  14. Jump up^ “How to join VHEMT” . The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement . Retrieved January 28, 2012 .
  15. Jump up^ “SUCCESS” . Voluntary Human Extinction Movement Website . vhemt.org.
  16. ^ Jump up to:d Keck, Kristi (October 5, 2007). “Earth has gracious host to trillions, but can it take many more?” . CNN Technology . Retrieved January 27,2012 .
  17. ^ Jump up to:b Savory, Eve (September 4, 2008). “VHEMT: The case against humans” . CBC News . Retrieved January 7, 2012 .
  18. ^ Jump up to:b Buarque, Daniel (October 31, 2011). “Cada pessoa nova é um fardo para o planeta, diz movimento da extinção” [Every new person is a burden on the planet, says an extinction movement]. G1 (in Portuguese) . Retrieved January 7, 2012 .
  19. ^ Jump up to:d Ormrod 2011 , p. 158.
  20. Jump up^ “Breeding to Death” . New Scientist . May 15, 1999. p. 19.(subscription required)
  21. ^ Jump up to:e Bethune Brian (August 6, 2007). “Please refrain from procreating” . Maclean’s . Archived from the original on June 25, 2013 . Retrieved January 7, 2012 .
  22. Jump up^ Weisman 2010, p. 312.
  23. Jump up^ Ellis 1998, p. 267.
  24. Jump up^ Ellis 1998, p. 382-3.
  25. Jump up^ Dammann, Guy (December 28, 2008). “Am I fit to breed?” . guardian.co.uk . Retrieved January 7, 2012 .
  26. Jump up^ O’Reilly, Abby (November 24, 2007). “No more babies, please” . guardian.co.uk . Retrieved January 7, 2012 .
  27. Jump up^ Furedi, Frank (September 12, 2007). “Environmentalism” . Spiked . Retrieved March 9, 2012 .
  28. ^ Jump up to:b Appleton, Josie (July 20, 2007). “Unleashing nature’s terror” . Spiked . Archived from the original on May 21, 2013 . Retrieved March 9, 2012 .
  29. Jump up^ Mieszkowski, Katharine (November 16, 2005). “No need to breed?” . Salon.com . Archived from the original on February 1, 2013 . Retrieved January 7, 2012 .
  30. Jump up^ Carmen Dell’Aversano (2010). “The Love Whose Name Can not be Spoken: Queering the Human-Animal Bond” (PDF) . Journal for Critical Animal Studies . VIII (1/2): 73-126 . Retrieved February 25, 2012 .
  31. Jump up^ Burkeman, Oliver (February 12, 2010). “Climate change: calling planet birth” . The Guardian . Retrieved January 7, 2012 .
  32. Jump up^ Best & Kellner 2001, p. 268-9.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *