“May we live long and die out” is the unofficial motto of a movement that seeks to improve the Earth’s ecosystem by ensuring that the human species does not survive.

The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, or VHEMT, consists of volunteers who have made active life decisions to remain childless for the benefit of the Earth, thereby preventing the extinction of millions of species of plants and animals.

VHEMT poster, graphic by Nina Paley

While no one person takes credit for being the founder, Les U. Knight created its name and is the spokesperson for the movement.

“We’ve already exceeded Earth’s carrying capacity for humans by quite a bit,” Knight told WND. “We are using up our resources. The best way to stop it is by not breeding. It’s really the best way because the people we don’t create don’t exist, and so there’s no impact on them.”

VHEMT activists believe a smaller population will benefit the Earth by reducing human and environmental catastrophe.

“There is no problem on the planet that would be more easily solved by adding more people,” Knight said. “Everything that we like, including clean air and clean water and wilderness to go and visit, all of those will increase as there become fewer of us.”

Knight said the greenest habit humans can have is to prevent creation of another member of the species, reducing humanity’s ecological footprint on the Earth.

Though VHEMT volunteers have made active decisions to not bring children into the world, Knight said he is not concerned that the movement will literally die out.

“It’s an idea, and it’s not transferred genetically,” he said. “We aren’t born knowing we should go extinct; we have to learn it. We don’t need to create new humans in order to indoctrinate them from birth. All of us come from breeding couples, and yet we’ve decided not to breed.”

VHEMT strives to increase the status of women in society with the stated goal of giving them choices besides motherhood by promoting “universal reproductive freedom.” While Knight said the main goal of the movement is to prevent procreation, he claims it does not promote abortion or other methods of terminating life.

“There’s no need for that. Contraception prevents abortion, and we’ll be dead soon enough,” he said. “Whatever it takes to avoid creating a new human is what we advocate.”

As for the size of the group, Knight said he can only guess because the movement is not an organization that people can join. However, he provided an estimate of the number of subscribers to the VHEMT philosophy:

“There must be several million people who have arrived at the conclusion that we would be better off without humans.”

When Knight formed the movement, he had one objective in mind:

“The ultimate goal is one I will never see,” Knight said. “I will never see the day that there are no humans on the planet.”


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