Random questions from VHEMT website visitors
and answers from Les U. Knight.

“I am unclear as to how one can propose to be a humanitarian and also advocate the extinction of the human race. ”

At first glance, this does seem to be a contradiction. If, however, one considers the fact that we are breeding ourselves into a probable die off, the VHEMT alternative is clearly the humanitarian approach.

We may already be entering the die off stage, with 40,000 children dying each day from preventable causes. If the parents of these children had the freedom to choose not to conceive, most of them wouldn’t have been sentenced to a short, tragic life and painful death. Reproductive freedom is a major first step toward voluntary human extinction.

“I read through your stuff and I realize that you are an intelligent person and not just some internet crackpot so this is surprising. Why should I care about the environment and animal concerns over human needs and wants?”

My perspective is more Earth-centered, so the answer to this question is obvious to me. However, even with a human-centered perspective, we should care about other life because, whether we realize it or not, we are dependent on them for our survival. By reducing biodiversity as we are doing, we are sawing off the limb we stand on.

“If you truly care about helping to end suffering, then do something useful. Of course you must be well aware of the countless ways that exist to alleviate suffering within the world and more specifically within your community. Many organization exist to try to help people, (and the environment, and animals). I realize that not much progress has been made.”

When we choose to cease breeding, we have more time to engage in noble activities such as helping others. As long as our needy numbers continue growing by 210,000 per day, we won’t make much progress. If we are able to improve birth rates and turn things around, there’ll be more of everything for everyone. More habitat for wildlife as well.

“It is staggering and depressing to think about how much suffering goes on in the world while we live in relative comfort. I’m am not an ethical egoist. I don’t believe that a person should only be concerned with his or her own needs. However there is a limit to the help we can give.”

True. And sometimes helping others is as much about what we don’t do as do do. By not creating another mega-consumer in North America, we are avoiding the exploitation of workers in poorer regions, among other things.

“One thing I have learned is that one’s own life is important and you shouldn’t sacrifice it for anything. Live your own life to its fullest and try to help others if you can.”

I agree. VHEMT is a cause to live for not to die for. Rather than sacrificing one’s life, it could be dedicated to whatever worthy efforts one chooses.

“In light of all these unsolvable world problems we feel helpless, but is the answer to them human extinction? No. That is a give up method; a cop out.”

Well, I realize it looks like it, but on the contrary, I think giving up would be to continue in the direction we are headed.

“I would rather try to help my fellow human beings and this planet regardless of how futile it is. I would rather fight than propose an impossible plan that would not help anything anyway. As you said humans are definitely the most powerful animal. We have the ability to help to some degree and I believe in trying.”

Choosing to phase ourselves out is only one important aspect of the plan to stop killing Earth’s biosphere. We also have much to do on our way out: cleaning up our toxic messes, dismantling dams, restoring ecosystems, and so on.

Our choices have the greatest influence on Earth’s biosphere, so we could be considered the most important species. On the other hand, the web of life can do quite nicely without us. It that sense, we are the least important species. The microscopic bacteria in the intestines of termites are far more important to the survival of life on Earth than humans are.

I share your commitment to keep on trying. Convincing six billion people to stop breeding is unlikely, but I think it’s our best hope for averting the ecological collapse we are precipitating. Each new human who is not created may be counted as a double success: they won’t be sentenced to live through the coming difficult times, and times might not be as difficult without them.

“While I am sympathetic to your ideas about preserving the environment, I am afraid that I cannot agree with your solution. The main problem with your argument is that your problem and your solution are diametrically opposed to one another.

“You are arguing that human beings should be extinct because they are too terrible to exist on this planet. You then advocate that human beings choose to make themselves extinct in what must ultimately be a unanimous decision of self-sacrifice...”

Yes, this is paradoxical. VHEMT is based on the love and logic which humanity is capable of using. And yet, if we actually used it, maybe we wouldn’t have to go extinct in order to preserve non-human life. Some have said that, because we have compassion and rationality and fail to use it, we are worse than the “lower” animals. I prefer to not be so negative about humanity.

“The problem is that if people were to ever be so “noble” as to do this, there would be no real problem in the first place. Further more, by removing yourselves from the gene pool at this time, you are in fact ensuring the further development of those who’s views are opposed to your own. Hence, humanity will not become extinct, but your ideas will.”

Fortunately, ideas aren’t inherited gentically. We can influence others and don’t have to breed new recepticals for the VHEMT concept. Actually, it’s as much an awareness as an idea. Millions of people are independently arriving at the conclusion that Earth’s biosphere will be better off without Homo sapiens.

“So, you seem like a reasonably intelligent person. Why don't you devote your time to a realistically worthy issue. Maybe political reform, so governments do more than pay lip service to environmental preservation.”

You're right about the need for political reform so that governments will protect the environment as most people want. It's as if large corporations have more say about what governments do than the people have. Challenging the demands of corporations with billions of dollars at their disposal may not be much more realistic than encouraging everyone to stop breeding, but both are worthwhile activities nonetheless.

Simply ceasing to breed does more than pay lip service to environmental preservation.

“I do not write this in criticism of your movement (although I do not agree with it in the least), but rather ask that you seek another solution to this problem. If this effort were put towards encouraging environmental responsibility, we could in fact look for a way to have all enjoy this world.”

Phasing ourselves out is only a part of the solution. As you say, we also need to encourage environmental responsibility. It’s difficult to tread lightly with 12 billion feet. Every environmental plan simply holds back the inevitable as long as we continue to increase our population density.

I too want all to enjoy this world. Existing life, human and non-human alike, deserves a life free from exploitation, fear, and want. The catch is that Earth’s biosphere can’t support the number of people already existing, let alone the 80 million a year being added.

The idea of humanity phasing itself out may seem difficult to accept at first. Many people consider themselves VHEMT Supporters: they don’t want Homo sapiens or any other species to go extinct, but they realize that the intentional creation of one more of us by anyone anywhere can’t be justified at this time.

For a better world,
Les U. Knight

Visitors to the VHEMT site have also expressed their agreements, disagreements and misunderstandings.