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What People Believe: The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement

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Continuing our What People Believe series, we delve into the world of the US-based Voluntary Human Extinction Movement - who believe the only way to save the planet is for humans to die out. 

Who?

The Voluntary Human Extinction movement are an American based movement who believe the only way to save the planet is for humans, quite simply, to disappear.

According to the Movement, concern about the effects humans have on the planet goes back millions of years, but it was Les U Knight (pseudonym?), an American activist interested in the environmental movement of the 1970s, who coined the name Voluntary Human Extinction Movement in 1991.

What do they Believe?

The key belief of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement (VHEMT) is that the Earth would be better off without human beings, and that we should cease reproducing to allow the biosphere to recover.

They believe that our extinction is not only preferable, but imminent and that the best way to avoid the suffering and collapse at the end of our time is to simply die out now, the way billions of species have already become extinct.They say that if we don’t phase ourselves out, first global civilization will collapse, then the biosphere.

With less people on the planet, VHEMT believe that the Earth will revert to a Garden of Eden type land, where there will be more food, less pollution and a more diverse ecosystem for those left behind. They say that as most conflicts and famine are caused by poor resource distribution, there will be less conflict because there will be less people to share out these resources.

VHEMT does not consider itself to be an organisation, it does not keep a list of members (although their Facebook group has a little over 2,000 people debating various ideas) and does not align itself with any particular religious or political ideology. Rather, it picks bits of different religions which support the idea that humans are a destructive force and need to consider their impact on the Earth for other species' sake.

It does not support mass suicide, or genocide, placing emphasis on distancing itself from China’s one child policy (“one child is too many”) and Hitler’s forced sterilisation programs and mass murder (“the answer is simply no”). Instead, VHEMT’s followers seek to live their lives sustainably with care and compassion for other species, but simply to not reproduce so that the population of the Earth will fall in future.

What do they do?

Well they don’t have children for one thing, although they do support adoption. Les Knight publishes a newsletter entitled “The Exit times” and supporters also attend conferences and speak about the human impact on the environment. Mostly though, they discuss their ideas, abstain from procreation and try to live their lives as sustainably as possible.

Weird Facts

 1. The motto of the Movement is “live long and die out”, with the official logo being an upside-down planet Earth

2. Sir David Attenborough recently warned that human beings have become a “plague on the Earth”, an idea at the core of the VHEMT.

3. VHEMT recommend putting your efforts into gardening and other recreational activities as opposed to reproduction.

4. Members of the Movement refer to planet Earth by the name ‘Gaia’

5. VHEMT is pronounced 'vehement' - definition, "Showing strong feeling; forceful, passionate, or intense."

 

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