Attempts to answer the question,
"Why breed?"

With comments from Les U. Knight sometimes slipped in between.

If you visited before January 2001, you may have already read the following.

Why breed? Tarbash says,

"In hopes that the newborn will create a better future for the rest of us."

That's an optimistic view, but it seems to me that newborns are very young and won't be able to create a future for us. Rather, we are creating a future for them.

I'm concerned about the future we are sentencing newborns to life in. In light of all the evidence, it seems to me that procreation today is the moral equivalent of selling berths on a sinking ship.

Also, considering that 40,000 children die from a lack of care on an average day, I wonder how many of them had the potential of helping make the world a better place. Just creating a new person isn't enough, they have to be nurtured and educated for a couple of decades before they start helping in significant ways. Until we can care for existing children, it seems to me that the intentional creation of one more of us by anyone anywhere can't be justified.

"So take your "VHEMT" and SHOVE IT!"

Thanks for the advice, but I don't like to force my ideas on anyone. I'll promote the concept of voluntary human extinction, but I won't shove it.

Why breed? David says,

"It feels so damn good."

Actually, isn't it the activity which sometimes leads to breeding that feels so good? Since we can't tell if a conception occurs during sexual intercourse, it can't really change the feelings we have during it.

Many couples report a great lessening of sexual activity after an offspring is created, so one could say that breeding doesn't feel so good.

Why breed? Sean says,

"you people are cretins."

We're only human, Brother.

"that is the most disgusting and horrible thing i have ever heard a human being say."

I can see how you might find the extinction of any species, including ours, to be disgusting and horrible -- I do too. However, I find the rate that other living beings are being wiped out by us to be even more awful. It's a scales-of-justice thing: place us on one side, all other life on the other -- maybe give us a million-to-one value advantage -- and see which side tilts down.

"you want a good reason why we should still procreate? so that we can evolve."

True, the only way a species can evolve, in the biological sense, is to reproduce. It can take tens of thousands of years for minor changes. VHEMT is a long-range project, but biological evolution makes us look like a flash-in-the-pan.

Two other kinds of evolution are possible without breeding: social and personal. Social systems are always behind the times by a few decades, but we do live that long. We have the potential for influencing our societies.

Personal evolution can happen instantaneously, and often does. We seem to reach new levels of awareness -- evolve -- in spurts. I aspire to help people advance in their awareness of our relationship with Nature.

"plants and animals are not the only living things on this planet that deserve the right to live, thrive, and survive."

I couldn't agree with you more. All life deserves, and has, the right to thrival and survival. Some species just have their freedom to enjoy those rights taken away from them. We can respect life by allowing it to survive.

"why dont you sickos try protecting your own species first"

Since humans are dependent on other life for our survival, by protecting other species we are also protecting our own.

I realize this may seem paradoxical, but our ceasing to breed will also protect humanity -- those of us who already exist. By continuing to breed as we are, we will suffer the massive die off which follows overshoot of Earth's carrying capacity.

Why breed? Ed says,

"If there are no children, there will be nobody to look after us when we're old and senile."

Yes, this could be a problem for the last humans. Today we simply pay people to provide services for the elderly and infirm. When everyone's retired, we'll have no employees. As our numbers became smaller we could cluster together and all take care of each other, but there would come a time when no one was there to spoon-feed the helpless, and death would finally come.

We could create robots which could do the jobs, but if the last humans are too senile to tell them what to do, they might inadvertently cause problems.

Like, "Robot, pigs off campus!"

"Yes, sir. Bacon for breakfast, change pampers."

"Read my lips, No new taxes! Support our troops!"

"Yes, sir. Old tacks hold pampers on hips to support your poops" And so on.

Tragically, no one would be there to enjoy the show.

To put matters into perspective, millions of elderly people today are not cared for though there are plenty of children around, some are grown and won't visit their parents -- sometimes for very good reasons. Although the last ones out may not be able to turn out the light, at least there would be far fewer in that unfortunate situation than there are now.

Why breed? Reg says,

"My problem is this. Eventually, if all goes well, the only people left on the planet will be the people who don't care about the planet. And we who do care won't be around to reign these bastards in. Every day that one of us dies, the benefit enjoyed by the Earth in reduction of load will be outweighed by the price she pays in loss of advocacy. Good caring children raised by good caring parents stand a better chance of saving this place than is to be won by the self-extermination of its most valuable warriors. Hmmm?"

Fortunately, the awareness that Earth's biosphere will be better off without us is one that people reach individually: they aren't born with it. We don't have to breed new people to care for Earth's biosphere, all we have to do is help existing people realize that we should do so.

"You say: 'A baby condor may not be as cute as a baby human, but we must choose to forego one if the others are to survive.' I say: Maybe so. But... Why is the condor so much more deserving of salvation?"

It's not that condors are more deserving than humans. Condors are only one of millions of species going extinct as a result of our increase.

"What has he ever done for the Earth?"

Condors and other carrion feeders fit into the ecosystem. We don't.

"And don't tell me his rights stem not from what he has done for the Earth but from what he has not done TO the Earth. Condors are spiteful birds and you know they would relieve themselves on many, many more cars if they just knew where to find them."

That would be fair enough. At least one of the six condors raised in captivity and released into the wild died from drinking anti-freeze from cars overheating in parking lots. A bittering agent would prevent pets, children, and wildlife from drinking it, but that would cut five cents of profit from each gallon. Typical, huh?

"And secondly, what's all this about man violating nature? How does he do this?"

No matter where you live, just look out your window -- if you have one. How much of what you see is natural? Those trees and shrubs are mostly exotics and domesticated hybrids. There may be a few birds and squirrels left, but our introduction of starlings, english sparrows, and domesticated animals have drasticly reduced their diversity. What percent of your view is car-related? How much has been converted to human habitat? Do you really have to ask?

"How and when was he able to remove himself from the natural scheme? Are you saying that man has elevated himself to some supernatural plane of existence?"

Yeah, pretty much. We have become exotic invaders. I don't consider this elevation, however. You're right in that we are still dependent on Nature for survival, whether we realize it or not.

"The Nature of Today is comprised of anything and everything begat by the Nature of Yesterday. If a beaver builds a house with sticks, his 'house' is still natural. If a man digs ore and melts it down and forges it into beams which he uses to reinforce the planks, or 'sticks,' with which he then builds a house, his house is no longer natural? What was the unnatural, unanimalian step in this second, more intricate process of house-building that robbed the human of his animalhood and his place in nature?"

When the beaver builds dams and houses, they are part of the natural environment and are washed away in the Spring snow melts. Those dams prevent erosion, provide nutrients for meadows and so on.

When we build houses and dams, they alter the natural ecosystem. We create zones of death around our habitats, exterminating all but a few domestic species to keep us happy.

"Nothing is unnatural."

We could say that, it just depends on how one defines the term, which is why I avoid using that as justification. Violence might be quite natural as well. Anything could be justified if "natural" makes it okay. I think natural or unnatural is irrelevant to moral choices.

"Man did not come from without this planet's ecosystem. We evolved here with everything else. From a moral perspective, the nature of man and the path this nature dictates or chances upon has as much a right to screw up this planet as other species have not to."

That's an interesting perspective. I've never heard it before. I sounds like you're saying that since we grew up in this society, we have as much right to go on a shooting spree as others have a right not to.

The analogy may not exactly fit. We, as a species, may not be intentionally destroying all other life on Earth. Our temporary dominance, exploitation, and annihilation of other species could be the natural result of evolution. Thinking this is wrong is a value judgement from my limited human perspective.

However, as limited as we are, I feel we have a moral obligation to use our rationality and compassion -- our love and logic -- to choose life over death.

"We can't leave this planet to the spider monkeys. They throw feces on everything."

Yeah, and there's nothin' lower than whale shit. Here in Portland, we would never stoop to throwing our feces. We dump it in the river, naturally.

Why breed? Kimberly says,

"Because I can. I'm no different than all the other living things."

True, we have many similarities with other living things, but you'll never hear any of them give a reason for breeding. They don't even know they're breeding when they engage in mating behavior.

Now that I think about it, maybe we don't either. There's a lot of mindless breeding going on: 60% of North American conceptions are unintended.

We can do a lot of things, but we can't do them all. As anyone who has parented knows, there isn't much time for anything else. I had the pleasure and privilege of raising a girl from five to adulthood, and I didn't do much else -- virtually no writing. I'm not complaining, I think my priorities were appropriate for the situation.

"I got such a kick out of your site. Will you send some of your converts to my house to help me take care of my kids? I figure I'm about tapped out, but the people who choose not to breed are still fresh and can help me."

Well, I'm not sure I've converted anyone, really. Most people arrive at their awareness on their own, usually before they even hear about VHEMT. Some, like myself, enjoy young people and/or are parents themselves. Others don't really like children, and wouldn't be beneficial helpers in your home. Still others have chosen not to breed so they can take care of non-human life -- they're too busy to help.

"I might even have another if I don't have to do the lion's share of the work again."

Yeah, it takes a village. Some in the village are wondering why they don't get a say in their participation in this collective child rearing. I don't begrudge half of my property taxes and half of my state taxes going to other people's children, but many childfree couples feel that giving away an additional $500 per child of their tax money each year is going too far. They wonder why they have to subsidize child care and pay a portion of their insurance, too. Some are upset that they can't find a place to live where children don't, until they turn 55, anyway.

So, the village is helping whether it wants to or not. Just imagine if parents had to pay the full cost in addition to doing the lion's share of the work.

While I don't advocate restricting people's breeding, and I realize that making parents pay their full share would just hurt the children, I think we should stop encouraging couples to create more of themselves at the expense of the rest of humanity and the planet.

I wish you well in caring for your existing children.

Why breed? Moshe says,

"Because your life comes from the Creator who put a reproductive organ system into place in humanity and made the first Commandment of His Bible be: To be fruitful and multiply. Do you know better than the Creator?"

I checked His Bible and you're right: the first thing humanity was told after being blessed was to be fruitful and multiply. Now that we've been fruitful and multiplied, it's time to follow the next commandments: replenish, subdue, and have dominion over all living creatures.

By getting stuck in the fruitful multiplying part, we are failing in our other tasks, especially having dominion over other life forms. Due to our increase, other species are going extinct at a rate unparalleled since the dinosaurs demise 65 million years ago. It's hard to have dominion over an extinct creature.

Do we know more than our Creator? We seem to think we know which of our Creator's creations should live and which should be extinct.

"Are you volunteering to be the first to downsize humanity?"

Sure! Although I'm not the first to choose to stop breeding, I've volunteered to do so for the good of all life. I'm a terminal bud on my family tree.

"What has happened is directly connected to El Nino, increased flooding, the more severe heat waves and the tragic Papua New Guinea tidal waves."

I guess we're falling behind on that commandment to subdue the earth, too.

"Please Note: Hassidic Rabbis all over the Holy Land and the rest of the world are presenly telling their congregations and the general public that the arrival of the Messiah, Rabbi M.M. Schneerson, is imminent!  This event involves massive earth-changes which have already begun!"

So, this is no time to be creating more humans. We must focus our lives on the changes which have already begun and are to come.

Why breed? Jon says,

"it is arrogant to assume that the world needs to be saved."

Yeah, I know what you mean. We trash Earth's biosphere and then step forward like super heroes to announce "We'll save you!" Earth could say, "Never mind the heroics, just stop killing me you arrogant idiots!"

"the environment is fine, our pollution will not destroy the world it will destroy us."

Well, it's tempting for me to be flippant and ask, if the environment is fine, why are we going to be destroyed? But I think I know what you mean: the environment, aka Nature, will probably survive in some form even though we die off by fouling our nest.

I wouldn't say it's "fine" though. 27,000 species are going extinct each year, according to the National Wildlife Federation. Habitat loss constitutes the greatest cause, and it's nearly impossible for us to recreate viable ecosystems.

"The earth has seen far more destructive things than us."

Likely so. The asteroid 65 million years ago is the current record holder. About 90% of existing life forms were eliminated within a few years. We haven't matched that yet.

However, I don't think it speaks all that well of us to say that Earth has seen worse over the past few billion years. That fact doesn't really justify what we are doing to other life forms in pursuit of material gain.

"why breed? why not."


"If the current situation continues it wont be necessary to voluntarily extict the human race, it will happen on its own."

When we choose to create a new human being, we take on a huge responsibility &emdash; one so big that "why not?" could hardly be considered a justification. But, since you ask:

What will the quality of life be as the human race becomes involuntarily extinct? How much of Earth's biosphere will remain by the time this destruction of our life support systems brings about our demise? I'm not reassured by the thought that life can evolve again from insects after we're done with our decadent greedfest. To me, this is the real arrogance of the human race.

Why breed? Anonymous says,

"My set of reasons:  Shakespeare, Mozart, Aristotle, Van Gogh, Salk, Einstein, The Pyramids, The Simpsons, and Pamela Anderson." 

True, these individuals have done great things for humans. But, considering the fact that tens of thousands of children die of preventable causes each day, couldn't some of them be as great as the above? No need to breed more, just take care of the ones we have.

Why breed? Unknown says,

"we should go on breeding because we are the only animals that reason and advance in technology and other things"

[No return address to reply to]

Why breed? Luke says,

"Because overpopulation is the surest path to human extinction."

You're probably right. At this point it seems that we are more likely to breed ourselves into extinction than to peacefully phase ourselves out. This just means we have much to do in raising awareness levels.

"No painful effort or self-restraint is required."

Actually, no painful effort or self-restraint is required with the VHEMT plan. Well, a vasectomy does involve a little pain, but self-restraint only applies to preventing conceptions. Parenthood is still a viable option for those who wish to care for existing children who need parents.

On the other hand, breeding ourselves into extinction would be very painful and the restraints imposed by the situation would be severe. Wouldn't it be cruel to sentence someone to life in a world we know is going to experience a severe readjustment?

"Sure we'll make a mess in the process, but have a post-human perspective: in a 100 million years or so Gaia will recover."

This seems irresponsible to me. It's similar to saying that it doesn't matter that 40,000 children die on an average day because 340,000 more are born. Or that it doesn't matter if you or I die today because we'll be dead within 50 or 60 years anyway.

"There'll be wonderful new species evolved from the cockroaches, rats, and pigeons that survive us."

This is likely to happen after the current extinction spasm. It sounds to me you are saying that we humans have the right to decide to wipe out billions of species, including our own, without much concern about it. This common perspective is one of the many reasons Earth's biosphere will be better off without Homo sapiens.

"What's your hurry?"

Actually, a peaceful phase-out will take longer than our present course. We have much work to do cleaning up our messes and restoring balance to the web of life.

"In the meanwhile, I'm a happy animal: Everywhere I go there's tasty food, warm places built for me, no big predators to scare me, and other happy healthy humans to breed with. What species wouldn't envy us?"

Yes, a billion of us have it pretty darn good. Wouldn't it be great if every human on Earth could live as well as we do? With an increasing population density, however, I fear this will never be. If, instead, we improve our birth rates there will be more of everything for all.

"And if we're clever enough not to act like other animals, we'll get to have technology, culture, and some biodiversity."

We have the technology, and what we like to call culture, but biodiversity is being rapidly diminished by those two aspects of our existence. I don't see our sawing off the limb we stand on as very clever.

"Don't be so arrogant, the earth can take care of itself perfectly well. It's only for our own sake that we should preserve wilderness."

True, Earth will eventually deal with the conditions we are imposing upon it, and I doubt we will succeed in converting it to another Mars -- though that's not impossible.

What really seems arrogant to me is thinking that the only reason we should preserve wilderness is for one overly-clever primate species: us.

Jonnie Boy says,

"Why breed?  The apparent point to biological life is to eat, sleep, defend, reproduce, and die."

But, do you think we moderate these factors with our intellect? We decide what to eat, when to sleep, whether it's necessary to defend or reproduce or not. We even have some choices about our deaths. We aren't simply victims of our genetic programming.

"Humans do have a relative monopoly on these things but the solution would not be extinction."

Yes, we are severely limiting other species' ability to experience their biological lives. Although human extinction may not be your idea of a solution, I think it's clear that if we weren't here we wouldn't be affecting other life forms.

"You probably do think that your intelligence (I think of it as a state of thought from outside at all perspectives, instead of ignorant, which I think of as a state of being absorbed in the moment) is what brought you to this wonderful conclusion of saving the earth.  If you ask me its an ignorant attempt to try to solve the ignorant mistakes of people from the past."

I'm not sure I followed all of that -- typos? Nonetheless, I'll respond as best I can. What brought me to become VHEMT is the same love and logic that has brought millions of other people to the same conclusion. Humans have the intelligence to learn from the past and extrapolate into the future. We also have the compassion to make choices which benefit ourselves and others.

Yes, we have to find solutions to the "ignorant mistakes" of our ancestors. Their irresponsible breeding limits our choices today. Rather than ignorance, which implies they should have known, I think nescience is more the culprit: people just couldn't fathom the massive forests disappearing or the vast oceans becoming polluted. I don't think any of us can claim nescience today. Denial seems to be our main obstacle to awareness now.

"There is no justification to killing one to benefit how many others."

I couldn't agree more. A major aspect of VHEMT is that we can't justify causing the extinction of millions of other life forms just for short-term benefits to our kind.

"It is not right to intelligently kill a man, only to ignorantly do so and repent in your intelligence."

Maybe I need to make it more obvious at the website that VHEMT is not about killing. The motto is "May we live long and die out." We are suggesting that people refrain from reproducing, not that we kill ourselves or anyone else. In fact, avoiding the massive die off, which typically follows a population's overshoot of the carrying capacity of its life support systems, is a major goal of VHEMT. Fewer deaths is our goal.

"You want to save everything before its too late so you want to be the noble enders of the great disgrace named humanity."

Sort of. It wouldn't do much good to save everything *after* it's too late. ;-) We want *all* of us to be the noble enders of the great experiment named humanity. And you're right, it is a noble effort.

"Thats like replanting the desert and trying to turn it into a rain forest."

The Sahara was once a rainforest. I doubt we could restore it at this point, but perhaps after we are gone vegetation will creep back and in a few million years a new ecosystem will thrive there.

"Even if every single living creature died it would be ludicrous to say that life would not restart."

But does that make it alright for us to cause the extinction of other species? Yes, life will go on after the ecological collapse we are engineering, even if it's the level of small mammals, insects, and below. Somehow this doesn't reassure me. Seems like saying that we don't have to step on the brakes because the car will stop as soon as it hits the embankment anyway -- don't worry, 'cuz some of the passengers won't be killed, just maimed. And even if all are wiped out, another one will come along eventually.

"It's as dumb an idea as trying to control anything other than yourself."

Actually, self control is exactly what VHEMT is about. If each of us controls our fertility, we won't have to try to control Earth's life support systems any more.

"It's as stupid as cutting a rope when you can untie it."

This seems to me what humanity is doing with Earth's biosphere. We could adjust to the natural world -- untie the knot. Instead we slash and burn until we reach the end of our rope.

"What you're saying is that we're the criminals and for the good of our victims we should vanish and hope they have better lives."

Not exactly. Criminals intentionally do harm, we humans are simply incompatible with Earth's biosphere. Even 12,000 years ago, when our numbers were small, it's likely we hunted some species to extinction. Criminal? No, we had to feed our families. Today the situation is about the same, but there are quite a few more of us.

"You're welcome to try to convince everybody in the world to follow you but they won't do it.  I believe it's all your choice and you can believe whatever you want but not everybody will come to your conclusion."

Yeah, I know what you mean -- it hasn't exactly caught on as I'd hoped. Millions of people around the globe are arriving at the conclusion that Earth will be better off when we are phased out, but convincing six billion people to stop breeding is a daunting task to say the least.

Perhaps the fact that our chances for success are slim and none is another good reason to refrain from sentencing another human to life. Reproduction today is the equivalent of selling berths on a sinking ship.

"Not because you're beyond they're level (You are not beyond mine), but because you are ignorant."

Perhaps I'm ignoring some aspects of the situation. I'd welcome your pointing them out. If by reducing my ignorance others will realize that voluntary human extinction is a good idea, then I'm all for it.

You know, it seems to me the question "Why breed?" remains unanswered, unless your note that it's the "apparent point to biological life" constitutes your answer. If so, then we could be finished with the purpose of our lives in 20 years -- why bother with the rest?

[I misspoke there. Forty years is more accurate: 20 to breed, 20 to raise the bred. Les]

In light of the tens of thousands of children who die on an average day, and the number of species going extinct due to our increase, how can the intentional creation of one more of us be justified today? Basically, what good would it do?

How about you, dear Reader? Can you think of a better reason for creating another human being than the above? Tell us, how would Earth's biosphere or humanity be better off if you created another of yourself, or if any couple anywhere created another of themselves?

Please send it to "Why breed?" with your name, or nickname, handle, aka or whatever you like for an identity in the subject line. Other VHEMT Volunteers and Supporters might respond if I don't have the time.

Thanks for your help. Les.

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