There are many ways that people can reduce their impact on the environment, from going vegan to pledging not to fly on airplanes. But for a growing number of individuals, they believe the best thing to do for the Earth is participate in the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, which aims to reduce the number of people on Earth.
But don’t worry, it’s far less grim than it sounds.
With the human population having reached 8 billion people in November 2022, the founder of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement is seizing this moment, and sharing how people can combat the risks that are associated with a growing human population by participating in the movement. Here’s what you need to know about the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, its founder, and how to get involved, if you so choose.
What is the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement?
The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement is a group that encourages people not to have children. According to the website, the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement (aka VHEMT, pronounced vehement) believes “voluntary human extinction is the humanitarian alternative to human disasters.” Basically, it’s a part of the antinatalism movement, with a focus on the environmental side of things.
VHEMT’s website makes it clear that the people who subscribe to this movement should do so with positive attitudes, and without shaming people. “We don’t carry on about how the human race has shown itself to be a greedy, amoral parasite on the once-healthy face of this planet,” the website states. “That type of negativity offers no solution to the inexorable horrors which human activity is causing.”
Instead, the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement aims to give those concerned about our planet’s future encouragement to abstain from procreating.
How can not having children benefit the Earth?
Each human has an impact on the environment and uses countless resources throughout their decades of life on Earth.
The way VHEMT sees it, because of that, reducing the number of humans brought into the world will slow down the overall human extinction, reduce the effects of the climate crisis, and enrich and prolong the lives of humans who are already alive.
“When every human chooses to stop breeding, Earth’s biosphere will be allowed to return to its former glory, and all remaining creatures will be free to live, die, evolve (if they believe in evolution), and will perhaps pass away, as so many of Nature’s ‘experiments’ have done throughout the eons,” the VHEMT website reads. “It’s going to take all of us going.”
The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement is adamant about not supporting wars, pandemics, famine, guns, murder, suicide, and other things that kill humans. On the contrary, the group’s motto is “May we live long and die out.”
Many have criticized the overall antinatalism movement, which is obviously a divisive topic. For instance, a Deseret News article called the Stop Having Kids movement (more on them in a moment) “a cry for help,” while a Reddit post accused most of the people on the r/antinatalism subreddit “toxic kids with bad childhoods who think that being born sucks for everyone.”
Who founded the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement?
The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement describes itself not as an organization, but a state of mind that anyone can join. “All you have to do to join is make the choice to refrain from further reproduction,” the website reads.
Even though VHEMT is not technically an organization, its founder is Les Knight, who got a vasectomy when he was 25, back in 1973, according to a recent profile by The New York Times.
“We came to be and then ran amok,” Knight, now 75, told the newspaper. “And because we’re smart enough, we should know enough to end it.”
Knight has been promoting his views for decades — and always with a positive attitude. The New York Times’ reporter repeatedly commented on how cheerful Knight is, proving that those involved in the antinatalism movement — or any other movement that fight the status quo in pursuit of fighting climate change and making the world a better place — need not be misanthropes.
There are other antinatalism groups, too, such as Stop Having Kids.
Similarly, the group Stop Having Kids believes that all humans should make the choice to not have kids, and instead make more efforts to support “already existing life,” always using “respectful means that honor bodily autonomy and individuality.”
Stop Having Kids primarily focuses on the variety of widespread human-caused issues (such as slavery, child abuse, animal abuse, transphobia, and more), as well as the personal benefits that can come with childfree living.
This article, originally published on Nov. 23, 2022, has been updated.