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The next extinction event? Us

Thinking before breeding – could a more logical approach to procreation be better for you and save the planet?

Dinosaurs are resurrected, on cinema screens at least with the release of Jurassic World, sixty-five million years after they were literally inventing the phrase, ‘gone the way of the dinosaurs’. The mass extinction event at the end of the Cretaceous period wiped out up to 81 per cent of all species on Earth.

Today, the World Wide Fund for Nature estimates that between 200 and 2,000 species become extinct every year as our planet’s resources are used up – but there is a solution to this unfolding environmental catastrophe. Instead of losing thousands of species, we could save them all with the deliberate and orchestrated extermination of one particular species… us.

Sacrificing the human race for the benefit of all other life is a view promoted by a growing number of people, including 67-year-old substitute teacher Les U Knight, from Portland, Oregon, who is de facto leader of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement. VHEMT, pronounced ‘vehement’, like their beliefs, advocate an extreme form of birth control to fix the ever-growing problem of overpopulation. But Knight does not want you to die, he just (like George Bailey halfway through It’s a Wonderful Life) wishes you had never been born at all.

“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.

“My main motivation for wanting our species to go extinct is preservation of Earth’s biosphere. Diversity is a strength of the biosphere and the fewer species there are the weaker it becomes. We’re pulling strands from the web of life and at the same time putting more pressure on it due to our increased population and consumption.

“People are not doing too well,” Knight continues. “Two billion people don’t have potable water, almost a billion are experiencing food insecurity – we used to call it hunger – it’s not a pretty world for half the people on the planet and it won’t be easy to improve their lot as long as all the progress is gobbled up by our increase in numbers.”


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Around 367,000 babies are born daily – meaning there are more new humans every day than the entire population of great apes left in the world. At the current birth rate, there will be 27 billion of us by the year 2100. That is the extreme end of population predictions and a more rational estimate is 10.1 billion people by the end of the century, which some think could be an unsustainable amount.

What about reducing global population to a sustainable level, perhaps with everyone adopting China’s one child policy?

“One is twice as good as two as far as procreation goes but our population momentum would take a while to start decreasing,” Knight says. “In terms of energy consumption, when a North American couple stops at two it’s about the same as an average Indian couple stopping at 30 or a Bangladeshi couple stopping at 97. At least China has done a lot to control their increase. There would be 400 million more of them today if they hadn’t instituted their policy.”

We’ve been involuntarily trying to extinct ourselves for a very long time

Knight argues that a lower population would result in house prices stabilising, lower rents and wages increasing with fewer people to fill vacancies. He also suggests that it would be good to join the voluntary movement to ensure it does not become a compulsory one.

“The end of humanity would be good for humanity,” he says. “That seems contradictory but as we phase ourselves out, the lives of those of us who exist will greatly improve. And those of us who don’t exist won’t know the difference.”

Knight put his money where his unmentionables are at the age of 25 when he underwent a vasectomy. “I’ve never regretted it for a moment,” he says. “I only wish I’d done it earlier. It’s dangerous having those wigglers.

“Don’t like voluntary extinction? It’s so much nicer than involuntary extinction,” he warns. “There are enough nuclear weapons to end the world tomorrow – we’ve been involuntarily trying to extinct ourselves for a very long time, and it will not be a pleasant experience for all of the people and all the other species to die in an ecological collapse.”

And let’s not forget, our extinction is not optional. We are all going to go the way of the dinosaurs sooner or later.

“It’s what we leave behind that will make the difference,” Knight says.

However, even if the human race does disappear from the face of the Earth, in 65 million years, whatever the dominant species is will undoubtedly clone us to populate their amusement parks. In their films, at least.