The VHEMT web site has been available to visitors since July 1996. People all over the globe are visiting these pages, with translations in several languages. They say “There’s nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” The Movement certainly has momentum, if that counts as powerful. More impetus is added to our momentum with each media mention and presentation. A few examples below.
The headline reads, Extinction Rebel: “may we live long and die out.” TJ Sidhu in The Face on February 12th 2020, asks a profound question, “The founder of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement has a radical solution to saving the planet: the phasing out of humans—all of us. Is he mad or actually onto something?” Why not both?
One quote worth correcting: “We’re counting calories while our insects go extinct.” Les said carbon not calories, but you know how it goes. The point is that while we focus on CO2-e emissions, loss of biodiversity could be a more far-reaching problem.
A book by Patricia MacCormack, released February 5th, 2020, The Ahuman Manifesto presents the concept of humanity voluntarily phasing itself out. The manifesto also opposes capitalism, hierarchy, religion, and anthropocentrisim, while favoring veganism, deep ecology, and reproductive rights.
Tom Whyman asks, “Are we all members of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement? The desire for humanity to go extinct seems crazy, but it may also be the dominant ideology of our time.” In The Outline, February 4th, 2020, Whyman expresses a deep understanding of historical and cultural aspects of VHEMT.
Mistaking VHEMT for an anti-human movement on February 3rd, 2020, Edward Hudgins of the Heartland Institute states, “Today’s Environmentalists Must Make a Literal Life or Death Decision.” The decision presented is between “We must protect humans!” and “We must protect Gaia, even at the expense of humans!” The option of protecting both is mysteriously missing.
Fox TV allowed Les three minutes to share VHEMT with Jesse Watters’ viewers. “Is human extinction the only way to save the planet?” Broadcast January 25, 2020. Before Les went on, “Coming up. a global warming extremist” who says to save the planet, humans need to be wiped out.
Dori Monson, a Seattle, Washington radio personality, interviewed Les on January 17, 2020. “Portland environmentalist: Human extinction only way to save Earth.” A positive summary and the broadcast is included on his page.
Disagreeing with the VHEMT concept, Libby Emmons wrote an article in Post Millennial January 15, 2020 “No, the extinction of the human race would not benefit the planet.” Their reason is basically that humans are great. “This is one of many calls of late for human beings to extinguish themselves.” VHEMT isn’t a call to extinguish ourselves, it’s to phase ourselves out. Each of us will be “extinguished” by natural causes soon enough, or by unnatural causes too soon.
On January 11, 2020, The Guardian UK’s Weekend Magazine feature,
“Experience,” allowed Les to talk about his journey to VHEMT awareness and beyond. “With us gone, other species will have a chance to recover.” The Print edition prominently placed “Procreation today is the moral equivalent of selling berths on a sinking ship” with the photo.
The SCB Journal published a conversation between Vanina Saracino and Les Knight in their Ecologies lost, found and continued issue, September 2019. Vanina asked questions that allowed Les to express the basic concepts and more insights.
Death Hangout, a fun podcast about life, produced an entertaining 27 minute interview with Les on September 28, 2019. See it on YouTube: “May We Live Long And Die Out with Les Knight”
Red State Revolt Radio’s Mark Faulk hosted Les Knight on his June 16th, 2019 internet radio show. The conversation included voluntary human extinction and additional actions we might take to ameliorate our impacts on Earth’s biosphere and humanity. You can download the podcast. MP3
News of people choosing not to bring more of us into existence because of climate change and the future it’s likely to generate increased in 2018 and continues into 2019. A Huffington Post article featured VHEMT Volunteer Roy Sasano on April 9th, 2019. “Does Not Having Kids Help Fight Climate Change? These Groups Think So. The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement believes in, well, just that.” Included is a quote from US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, which has boosted awareness tremendously: “There’s scientific consensus that the lives of children are going to be very difficult. And it does lead young people to have a legitimate question: Is it OK to still have children?” Video of a talk show explaining Birth Strike provided several reasons to avoid procreation, like it’s “morally and ethically irresponsible to have kids.” Birth Strike, however, vehemently stated that’s not part of their message.
In February 2019, Raphael Samuel caused a media frenzy when he announced he was suing his parents for creating him without his consent. As an antinatalist, he believes it’s immoral to bring more people into a world where they will suffer, when they surely won’t suffer in non-existence. Child-free India’s first national gathering of Indian child-free proponents combined VHEMT, antinatalism, childfree by choice, and Buddhist teachings. “Inside India’s anti-natalist cult.”
The Daily Mail published a thorough description of VHEMT, including many graphics, January 16, 2019. One of the bulleted subheads: “The movement does not want people to die or commit suicide but rather volunteer to not procreate to bring population down until humanity’s demise.” The popular site generated many readers’ comments, though with the number of “You first” suicide suggestions, maybe “readers” is too generous.
On January 12, 2019, EuroNews shared a video of Alex in France, explaining why he has chosen to avoid creating another human. “The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement (VHEMT) claims that people should stop having children and humanity should die out in order to save the biosphere.”
A six minute interview of Les Knight by Micro gives a quick overview of VHEMT. Soundcloud
The Mercury, an alternative weekly in Portland, Oregon featured VHEMT August 15th, 2018: “Thank you for not breeding. Sure, the Voluntary Extinction Movement Doesn’t Want You to Have Babies—But There’s Much More to the Story.”
Although the clickbait headline from the Daily Star 12th August 2018 was completely false, Tom Fish portrayed VHEMT even-handedly.
“Voluntary Human Extinction Movement: Bizarre group wants to OUTLAW humans reproducing. THERE is only one solution to save the planet – and that is for humanity to stop reproducing and allow us to die out, a radical group has warned.”
“...a controversial movement has announced the ultimate answer—far from adapting the planet to save humanity—it urges mankind to stop reproducing and allow our species to die out. ‘We are encouraging people to think before they procreate,’ explained the movement’s founder Les Knight in an exclusive interview with Daily Star Online.”
An audio interview on Collapse Chronicles’ YouTube channel: Les Knight: “We’re Heading—Accelerating, Actually—Into Several Collapses”, was made in 2018 with a poor quality mic. Listening with a headset helps. 48 min. Part 2. 12 min.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio’s Patricia Karvelas, host of RN Drive spoke with Les for six and a half minutes on July 18, 2018. MP3
The radio spot generated an article by Simon Leo Brown and Barbara Heggen on Aug 4, 2018.
“The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement wants you to rethink having children. If you announce on Facebook that you’re having a baby, don’t expect Les Knight to be among the well-wishers. The self-described ‘finder’ of the provocatively-named Voluntary Human Extinction Movement—or VHEMT (pronounced ‘vehement’) — says congratulating people on a pregnancy is an example of ‘natalist propaganda.’”
“Would you give up having children to save the planet? Meet the couples who have.” Although VHEMT is not childfree, it’s procreation free, The Guardian’s Amy Fleming complied short biographies of people who have chosen to not have children for the sake of Earth’s biosphere, and VHEMT was included. 2018 saw a groundswell of articles about people choosing to forego procreation, and Amy’s may have been the best of the bunch. It lead more people to this site than any other media exposure that year: several thousand unique pageviews compared with a daily average of 633.
Rooster’s Lindsey Kline favorably presented the VHEMT perspective in detail, including many graphics, on January 25, 2018. “Never have kids and save the Earth, says Voluntary Human Extinction Movement.”
“It’s also a bit short-sighted, Knight points out, ‘we’re not just having children... We’re having adults.’ Knight doesn’t mean to villainize people with kids, of course. ‘They’re just victims of natalist propaganda,’ he says.”
Virginia Pelley, in Marie Claire, January 29, 2018, included a VHEMT quote in their click bait headlined article, “This Extreme Sect of Vegans Thinks Your Baby Will Destroy the Planet. Meet the anti-natalists, people who believe reproduction is wrong.”
“There are many ways to reduce our ecological footprint, including eating low on the food chain and making wise transportation choices,” says Les Knight, a substitute teacher in Portland, Oregon, and spokesperson for the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement (VHEMT). “But all of them pale in comparison to avoiding the creation of a new human with a lifetime of impact.”
The Municipality of Porto, Portugal hosted a forum on the future, and invited Les to present the VHEMT concepts in November, 2017. His talk, “Voluntary Human Extinction: fresh hope for planet and people,” was favorably reported in more than a dozen news outlets in Portugal, including Mundo, and Observador. Read a blog about Les’ adventure.
Metaphorically turning the Amazon into car air fresheners. One side had scheduled talks at the forum on the future, and the other a photo of the Amazon.
Steven Spencer interviewed Les for his podcast, Environmental Professionals Postulating in September 2017. In 49 minutes, most of the issues surrounding human population pressures and their solutions were covered.
Vice TV’s “The Business of Live” gave Les an opportunity to present the concept of voluntary human extinction in their episode on Climate Change June 25th, 2017. A 10-minute excerpt of the program provides a teaser.
In addition to the VHEMT information table hosted at the Public Interest Environmental law conference each year for more than 25 years, in March 2017, Les organized a panel, “Human Population Pressures: Influences, Responsibilities, and Benefits of Improving our Approaches.”
Les addressed natalism as the social institution motivating procreation. Text and graphics of Les’ presentation.
Yasmin Tayag of Inverse interviewed Les April 11, 2016. Their headline emphasized VHEMT’s promotion of reproductive freedom and gender equality for “preventing destruction by overpopulation.”
The Big Issue in the UK suggested in their April 14, 2015 issue, “The next extinction event? Us.”
They note that we “advocate an extreme form of birth control to fix the ever-growing problem of overpopulation.” How extreme? “‘We are encouraging people to think before they breed,’ he says. ‘Once you get a more logical approach to the idea of procreation, you realise it’s not in your best interests or in the best interests of society or the world.’”
The Big Issue spawned other articles. The infamous Breitbart News reported on 10 Jun 2015: “Wipe Out Humans to Save the Earth, Group Says.” We do? “Human beings urgently need to wipe themselves out to avoid ecological catastrophe, the leader of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement has claimed. One solution, Knight said, could be for the West to introduce a ‘one child policy’ banning couples from having two or more children, as China does, although even this may not be enough.” Obviously this wouldn’t be voluntary, so Les didn’t really suggest that solution.
Newser considers us legit: “There’s a Legit Group That Wants Humans to Go Extinct. Yes, Les U. Knight wishes you were never born” headlines Arden Dier’s Nov 8, 2015 article.
Volunteers represented VHEMT with an information booth at Portland, Oregon’s Earth Day celebration in 2014. The Fates humorously intervened by locating it directly across from a midwife’s booth. Twenty photos of freshly born humans graced the top of their canopy, while “Thank you for not breeding” offered polite contrast.
Giving a talk, “Thank you for not breeding”, on February 16th, 2010, Les presented the VHEMT concept at Oberlin College and Conservatory, sponsored by Oberlin Animal Rights.
On September 5, 2009, the Discovery Channel’s Focus Earth included the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement’s solution in their episode about over population. Bob Woodruff’s interview of Les Knight and Nina Paley is no longer online.
For Earth Day 2009, Laura Ingraham hosted Les on her syndicated radio program in advance of Steven Milloy, author of Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them. No, it’s not intended to be a parody.
In a half-hour radio broadcast on July 3, 2008, Stephanie Potter interviewed Les and took questions from callers in “The Recovery Zone”,
A November 16, 2005 article in SF Gate - the San Francisco Chronicle online - by Gregory Dicum: “GREEN Maybe None: Is having a child—even one—environmentally destructive?” was picked up by UPI, appearing in many newspapers.
From there, quite a few radio talk shows invited Les to be interviewed and sometimes take calls from listeners. Les was a guest on “FOX News Live With Alan Colmes” radio show on November 29th, 2005. Alan also hosted Les for two Earth Day shows, April 27, 2004, and April 22, 2005, receiving calls from across North America. Les was on Alan’s show again on February 2, 2009. Alan died in February 2017 at 66.
On December 2, 2005, an MSNBC TV program, “The Situation with Tucker Carlson,” featured Les in a segment entitled, “Taking on the [Voluntary] Human Extinction Movement”. Although Tucker wasn’t fully in agreement with VHEMT, his questions allowed the main points to be shared with the audience. Tucker’s final comment: “I will say, that is the sickest thing I think I’ve ever heard, but you are one of the cheeriest guests we’ve ever had. I don’t know how to—how the two fit together, but I appreciate you coming on. Thanks a lot.”
Selected articles, interviews of Les, mixed reviews, and so on may be seen at: Media Mentions
A major goal of our web site is to advance the population-awareness movement, which seems to have become stalled, and may have slipped back to where it was more than 35 years ago. Progressive population awareness groups advocate a one-child average and two maximum, but few, if any, dare to advocate zero procreation. Environmental groups, with the notable exception of The Center for Biological Diversity, avoid the controversial topic, preferring to work on consequences of our excessive breeding. Scientists acknowledge population’s effects, but also decline to include it in their suggested solutions.
Several online forums for sharing and discussing ideas related to voluntary human extinction are available in English, French, and Spanish.
Les participated in a panel titled,“Human Population Density: Patriarchy’s Influence, Positive Signs, and Reproductive Freedom.” at the 26th annual Public Interest Environmental Law Conference in Eugene, Oregon March 9th, 2008. The panel also included Kelpie Wilson, Environmental Editor for TruthOut and author of Primal Tears, and Richard York, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Oregon and a co-editor of the journal Organization and Environment.