Voluntary Human Extinction Movement
|A bunch of tree-huggers|
|Save the rainforests!|
|Watch that carbon footprint!|
“”Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply, and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You're a... plague. And we... are the cure.
|—Agent Smith, The Matrix|
The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement is an "extinctionist" movement which advocates the self-extinction of humankind. This movement argues that humankind is responsible for ecological unbalance and the destruction of the global environment, and believes that our planet's environment would be better off without humans.
So far, there is no indication that the movement is going to be very successful.
 Method Statement
The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement does not advocate murder or suicide: Instead it advocates non-reproduction (not birth control, no births whatsoever) so that human beings will eventually disappear. Once humanity has been and gone, the world will then return to a balanced state and evolve more peacefully and naturally.
 Initial problems
While an interesting, though odd idea - see this very article's talk page for some idea of how controversial it is - it requires one important commitment; everybody would have to agree to it. That's not just everyone in a town, or everyone in your school (like a recycling program) or everyone in your country but everyone. All 7 billion people on the planet need to stop having babies.
Other than the extreme improbability and questionable desirability of this occurring, another obvious drawback to this is that the population would age rapidly and clearly not be able to take care of itself. If you think socialism won't work when 25% of the population are pensioners, try any economics system when 90% of the population are pensioners... Rather than drifting off into a peaceful slumber to leave the world be, the human race would likely die a rather undignified death as its people fight and squabble their way into non-existence (this may or may not happen anyway. The VHEMT, however, rightly points out that this human-centricsuffering, is not even a small fraction of that which humans inflict onto the dozens of species the drive to extinction daily.
There is also the issue that the VHEMT "meme" would have to pass on to future generations. In evolutionary terms they could be out-competed by the descendants of those who wanted to continue reproducing. However, extintionist philosophy could also be transmitted to future generations, just like many other ideologies have.
 Primary assumptions
In order for human extinction to be beneficial to the planet in a long term sense, several assumptions must be made. If most or all of these turn out to be true, then indeed human extinction will be a benefit to the earth. These assumptions are:
- That the human race is the primary negative factor affecting the planet.
- That the planet will return to "ecological balance" after humanity has disappeared.
- That there's such a thing as "ecological balance," and hence a genuine positive or negative way of describing environmental change. This is particularly subjective, as many would consider an earth with only fungus to have as much "ecological balance" as our current earth.
- That any given state of the Earth can objectively be said to be better than any other given state i.e. that our current biological diversity is indeed better than a planet with only fungus.
- That appealing to an ecological disaster independent of humans is like a murderer justifying his actions on the basis that another murderer could appear on the scene.
- That the chances humans will hypothetically stop a meteor, given minimal investment, magnitude of time scale, and uncertainty of result, do not outweigh the real environmental destruction humans inflict.
- That it is probably impossible in the next few hundred years to colonize and cultivate in places like Mars and that the hypothetical "long term positive environmental impact" of humans has no evidence to back it up. A bit like a dictator asking for 50 more years of rule under the promise that he will become a beacon for democracy.
- That our sights are on the stars while we’re sinking in toxic sludge. That even in the highly unlikely event that humans found a viable planet only a few light years away, 100 space ships holding 2,000 people each would have to blast off every day: one every 15 minutes. Contraception is cheaper.
- That another species hypothetically evolving to intelligence and doing the same to the planet is not an excuse for continuing our present destruction. The dictator says it's ok to be a tyrant because in the future you may get another tyrant anyway.
- That humans should not ignore their current destruction by appealing by even-worse human-made robots against which humans must fight to save the planet. Reality requires honesty, not a corny self-serving sci-fi movie where humans are the heroes.
- That it is necessary to eliminate the entire human race to achieve their goals because even the most ecological hunter-gatherers could become civilized and greatly reproduce, just as it had to happen to get to our current predicament.
And fairly importantly:
- That "technology and inventiveness" don't have a pro-environmental track record and so them "saving the day" is nothing but "pie in the sky" by humans desperately trying to justify their own existence.
So far, it's clear that these assumptions hold well enough to justify the extinction of the human species, though if humans massively reduce population and production, they may be able to greatly reduce their ecological destruction. If we use a balance scale like blind Justice holds, place all the species going extinct on one side, and place us on the other—giving us about a 500,000 times more weight because we invented the scales—the sales will tip in favor of our extinction, even with our weighted advantage. Homo sapiens’ population was reduced to fewer than 10,000 individuals at some time in our existence, an estimate based on the similarities of our DNA. This bottleneck likely happened 73,000 years ago when the Toba volcano rained ash on our habitat and precipitated a volcanic winter. Ten thousand would certainly be a sustainable number, if we weren’t so fecund clever. Introduction of one breeding pair of an exotic species is all it takes to disrupt an ecosystem and cause extinctions of native species. We have evolved into a virtual exotic invader of Earth’s biosphere as a whole, incompatible with undomesticated life forms.
Just as a mass-murderer cannot claim that "people die all the time anyway", a species that inflicts a rate of extinction thousands of times greater than the background rate cannot exculpate itself by claiming that "species go extinct all the time anyway". Unlike an asteroid, humans have the awareness to realize their destructive nature and act accordingly. In short, VHE is a very rational species-friendly solution which is by no means a practical or palatable. It can easily be envisaged that more people would choose not to have children for their own, personal reasons than reasons of achieving VHE. If it was achieved before humans drive themselves extinct involuntarily, it would take thousands of years for human activity to be wiped completely away by the ravages of time and for the world to revert to the biologically diverse state desired by supporters of human extinction. However, following human extinction, no homo sapiens would be around to judge whether the planet is a barren wasteland or a dense jungle. This is a plus for other species, according to the VHEMT.
 See also
- Voluntary Human Extinction Movement - The official website of the VHEMT
- "RationalWiki of VHEMT" - The official response to our article, circa May 2012. (Alternate title: "Some words from VHEMT (in green) related to this *Rational* ???? wiki article." -- Eco h2o)
- "How deep is your ecology?" chart - read to the bottom for surprise lulz.
- Children of Men - when no more babies are born, look what happens.
- Voluntary Human Extinction Movement - a featured article in Wikipedia
- ↑ Which is sorta correct, although large asteroids hurtling through the atmosphere and hitting the ground at 12 times the speed of sound aren't completely innocent.
- ↑ IUCN Red List - Homo sapiens - yes, they bothered to make this page. Humans are officially "least concern" on the endangered species list.
- ↑ Well, to be fair, the threshold of win (whatever "win" means in this context) is somewhat lower than this argument suggests: reduction of the global human birth rate to below the replacement level of 2.1 offspring per mother, producing a gradual reduction in human population. A complete halt to reproduction is necessary only for termination of the human experiment in one generation, and we don't even need unanimous cooperation for that -- the global nuclear arsenal will do just fine.