The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement
May 30, 2002 9:24 AM   Subscribe

The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement "Phasing out the human race by voluntarily ceasing to breed will allow Earth's biosphere to return to good health. Crowded conditions and resource shortages will improve as we become less dense." More inside...
posted by Irontom (21 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
My favorite from the FAQ:

Q: What about the human instinct to breed? Humans, like all creatures, have urges which lead to reproduction. Our biological urge is to have sex, not to make babies. Our "instinct to breed" is the same as a squirrel's instinct to plant trees: the urge is to store food, trees are a natural result. If sex is an urge to procreate, then hunger's an urge to defecate.

Seems to me that those who are determined not to procreate will be overwhelmed in the long term by those they feel are so foolish.
posted by Irontom at 9:30 AM on May 30, 2002

I think this has been on MeFi before.

VHEMT: "May we live long and die out"

instead, how about,

VHEMT: "We like throwing snowballs into the pit of hell"
posted by insomnyuk at 9:38 AM on May 30, 2002

for reference, here
posted by chrisroberts at 9:41 AM on May 30, 2002

Obviously, at some point, population growth has to cease. Hopefully, this will be prior to the point at which environmental collapse sets in.

Also, I would think obviously, the reduction of population from its current levels could be quite a positive thing, if done slowly, steadily, and in a purely voluntary manner.

I DON'T see where the extinction idea comes in.

It's like saying: "Ah, a refreshing glass of ice water... let's drown ourselves!"
posted by dissent at 9:50 AM on May 30, 2002

The cool thing about volutary nonreproduction is that each participant benefits regardless of the "movement's" success or failure. Want to have more fun, more time, more money, and a longer life? Don't have kids! The fact that you are contributing to a decreased planetary population growth rate is just a bonus, though it can be used to salve one's conscience in moments of environmental guilt.

The "extinction" in this group's name is there to sound dramatic and attract attention. It doesn't take much of a look at the website to pick up its distinctly tongue-in-cheek flavour.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:01 AM on May 30, 2002

Our biological urge is to have sex, not to make babies

Try telling that to some mothers and would-be-mothers I know.
posted by vacapinta at 10:30 AM on May 30, 2002

I want a tax credit for my voluntary nonreproduction.
posted by rushmc at 10:31 AM on May 30, 2002

I'm sure many here would like to thank the VHEM for allowing them to attach noble environmental awareness to what was once merely an inability to get laid.
posted by glenwood at 11:09 AM on May 30, 2002

But do we need VHEMT? I think we're doing pretty well at making ourselves extinct anyway aren't we?
posted by crayfish at 11:15 AM on May 30, 2002

VHEMT sounds a lot like the Erdschweinhöhler in Gravity's Rainbow, a tribe of displaced Hereros who "have opted for sterility and death:"
They want a negative birth rate. The program is racial suicide. They would finish the extermination the Germans began in 1904.... They calculate no cycles, no returns, they are in love with the glamour of a whole people's suicide--the pose, the stoicism, and the bravery. These Otunkungurua are prophets of masturbating, specialists in abortion and sterilization, pitchmen for acts oral and anal, pedal and digital, sodomistical and zoophiliac--their approach and their game is pleasure.... The Empty Ones guarantee a day when the last Zone-Herero will die, a final zero to a collective history fully lived. It has appeal.
posted by muckster at 11:20 AM on May 30, 2002

posted by a3matrix at 11:49 AM on May 30, 2002

Who's going to tell stupid/poor people to stop breeding?
posted by uftheory at 11:53 AM on May 30, 2002

Obviously, at some point, population growth has to cease. Hopefully prior to the point of environmental collapse ... the reduction of population from its current levels could be quite a positive thing, if done slowly, steadily, and in a purely voluntary manner.

dissent, demographers already believe this will happen, and "voluntary" reductions aren't even necessary: New global forecast: population decline in sight. The primary motivator for smaller families appears to be a modern industrialized society with a strong middle class. The birth rate in the US is below replacement levels; immigration offsets that. In certain other countries the aging postwar 'baby boomer" population is causing tremendous problems, particularly Italy and some Scandinavian nations. Birth rates have been dramatically declining in places like India, even though population increases will continue for decades. Russia is facing the depopulation of the entire range of Siberia -- probably to be settled by Asian immigrants over this century, which will be an interesting transition for them. China has been successful with its sometimes brutal one-child policies, though they still face tremendously debilitating problems such as a rural/urban divide and may reach a point where they're in Italy's position regarding an elderly non-working population larger than the younger working cadre can support.

Seriously, population decline is going to be the problem of this century, not explosion.
posted by dhartung at 12:27 PM on May 30, 2002

Seriously, population decline is going to be the problem of this century, not explosion.

A far better "problem", as far as I can see, than the reverse would be...
posted by dissent at 12:34 PM on May 30, 2002

Can we get someone who understands biology in here to explain the idea that as technology improves, so does carrying capacity for a population within an ecosystem? This is why there are billions of people today, they aren't dying as quickly, because the environment, with the help of technological innovations, can sustain them. There can be no such thing as overpopulation. Whatever population exists is probably close to what can be sustained, given current conditions.

I agree with dhartung, population decline is the problem, inasmuch as there will not be enough new people to take care of the old ones. The cost of labor could skyrocket within just a generation or two.
posted by insomnyuk at 1:32 PM on May 30, 2002

Insomnyuk, even if we can invent technologies that will let us cram (say) 30 billion people onto this planet, would you really want to live in crowding that intense? Technologies to support increased human population densities rely on increasingly intense exploitation of natural resources. Earth only absorbs a certain amount of solar energy, and it's difficult to increase the fraction of that energy devoted to supporting humans without decreasing something else as a result.

I like open spaces. I like knowing that there are ecosystems which aren't centered on human beings. I like clean air, wide vistas, and places that lack any semblance of a straight line. The more humans we pack onto this planet, the less room there will be for these good things. Let's not find out whether we can survive a continually rising global population - the best success we can hope for is an increasingly drab home world.

The growth will stop someday. The population will not grow forever, no matter how clever our technologies. Why not stop now, while our planet still has some of its natural beauty?
posted by Mars Saxman at 2:18 PM on May 30, 2002

There is no greater technological innovation than the complexe biosphere already in place. Isn't it a be egotistical for us (not you insomnyuk) to think that we can come up with a better system? Seems the best system was already engineered, and it took billions of years. Yet we think we can waltz in after a couple hundred thousand of 'em and beat it.

I don't what it is today, but I'm feeling a bit down.

Is it possible that we've already passed the sustaining limit of this planet? I mean - seems as tho we humans very much have to "see" things to believe them.

It's like push a flying machine off a cliff, all the while -- while falling -- the president/leader says: 'Things look fine so far'.

Yeah - I think that's an Ishmael paraphrase.
posted by folktrash at 2:19 PM on May 30, 2002

I always seem to comment on dead threads. *sigh*
posted by folktrash at 4:42 PM on May 30, 2002

There can be no such thing as overpopulation.

That is the most ridiculous contention I have ever heard. Let's put 50 more people in your home and see how well you are able to function, and you can use whatever "new magic technology" you want to help accommodate them.

Then let's add 5000 more.

Oh, but that's not fair, you say? That's artificial, in the real world, numbers level out at viable levels?

Walk through the streets of Calcutta sometime and tell me how "viable" you think that is. There is such a thing as quality of life, as Mars Saxman points out above.
posted by rushmc at 6:26 PM on May 30, 2002

The VHEMT is about declining our species to obliteration, not merely leveling off our population. I'd say that's pretty pessimistic, as it can only result in greater proliferation of the stupid, ignorant and uninformed people to take over and make things worse for everyone. I doubt the remaining creatures of Earth would find our former cities and streets very livable.
posted by Down10 at 7:22 PM on May 30, 2002

This has gotta be a double post. I'm already a member.
posted by fnord_prefect at 10:39 PM on May 30, 2002

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