Although unrelated to the music we present, we found the VHEMT movement to be interesting for several reasons. Among other things, an understanding of the dark state of this world and the increasingly dark future that awaits it on the horizon.

The following interview is done with Les U. Knight...

First, lets start by you introducing yourself and your movement to our readers.
The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement existed long before I gave it a name. It's a simple concept, in fact, it fits on a bumper sticker: "May we live long and die out."
Although I've become known internationally as a spokesperson for VHEMT, I'm just another Volunteer -- there's no official organization, and so no hierarchy. I edit These EXIT Times, the vehement voice of The Movement, maintain a website, and moderate an online discussion list for Volunteers and Supporters.

Tell us how you got involved with the VHEMT (Voluntary Human Extinction Movement)?
Like most people who have arrived at this awareness, I simply followed a train of logic, guided by a love and respect for all life. I think anyone who has the facts, and thinks about the situation long enough will arrive at the conclusion that Earth's biosphere would be better off without humans. A little more thought and it's apparent this has to be voluntary.

Anyone can see, when thinking of the future, and taking note of the rising global population, that if something does not change, then the human race as we know it will never last. We're already exhausting the planet's resources at this point. What do you think about this? And do you really see VHEMT as a practical solution to this ever growing problem?
Convincing six billion people to stop breeding is a rather daunting task, so in some ways it may not be practical. However, on an individual basis, refusing to breed further is the most practical solution available. We may not be able to prevent the massive die off which our species has engineered for itself, but we can make sure we don't sentence another one of us to life in a world less and less able to provide for our needs.

Could you give us some statistics on the population problems we're facing and are about to face?
In 1950, the birth rate was about five offspring per couple, today it has improved to about 2.8. This good news has been loudly proclaimed as proof the population bomb has fizzled out. However, we have to look a little closer. In 1950, our annual increase was about 37 million -- today it's 80 million. So, we are increasing twice as fast with half the fertility. To make matters worse, many more are approaching child-bearing age. Half of Africa's population is under 15, as is one third of Latin America and Asia.

I can imagine you get a lot of negative feedback from your site. What does the majority of negative feedback revolve around?
Misunderstanding is the primary source. People often pass over the first word in VHEMT: Voluntary. Many also mistake us for a suicide cult. Breeding seems to be a blind spot in our thinking -- we forget that our population density can be improved without increasing deaths.
People who are most upset by suggesting we stop breeding are closest to breaking through their denial of our situation. I'm actually encouraged by vehement opposition -- it means they care enough to get angry, and that they are aware on some level that VHEMT is correct. Maybe some of the outrage caused by thinking about our extinction will spill over to other species and generate some appropriately outrageous concern for their plight.

VHEMT seems to strictly advocate not having children. You've a difficult task, as much of this world is in a kind of mindless sexual frenzy... which is probably a big part of the population booms. Much of the world has grown comfortable in their 'peaceful' docile existence. But even comfort and access to resources alone is definitely not the sole reasons, as the 'third world' has some of the highest birth-rates. Humans have no predators, other than other humans, and the occasional microbe. So there's really nothing to control population. And with advancing medicine and science, people are generally living longer. Your thoughts on this and how would you convince someone of your argument?
Helping people gain a clear view of Nature's precarious situation is more a matter of providing assistance to get over a few mental obstacles. Everyone has different blocks, most of them emotionally charged, and a different approach is best for each of us. Ultimately, each of us progresses as far as we allow ourselves.
Birth rates are higher in lesser-industrialized regions for several reasons, one of which could be remedied fairly easily: provide contraceptives for those who want them. The UN estimates that 350 million couples want contraception but aren't able to get it. By denying this basic human right, 75 million women must deal with unwanted pregnancies each year. 25 million are carried to full term.

I believe it to be only a matter of time until another plague sweeps through mankind. Much like the black death of the middle ages, perhaps even worse. If something like the Ebola virus were to reach a metropolis, it would be uncontrollable. But even the dreaded Ebola has its weaknesses, which lie in its speed in killing. And on the other end of the spectrum, lies the HIV virus, which kills slowly, but at this point too slow to stun the population growths. Give us your thoughts on this subject and your opinion on the possibility of a deadly viral outbreak in our future.
We can't alter our environment this much and not suffer the consequences. New viruses are likely, and many deaths will result. This is not good news. Increasing death, unless it's on a scale never before experienced by humanity, will not improve our density. Just to keep our numbers steady, an additional 220,000 of us would have to die on an average day. Higher death rates generally create higher birth rates, and in the long run there are just as many of us as ever. Right after the Black Death, European population shot for the moon.

What are your thoughts on other movements such as 'The Church of Euthanasia?'
In order to appeal to a diverse range of perspectives, we need a diverse range of approaches. Some are no doubt offended by actions of the Church of Euthanasia, but I'm sure there are some who would never be reached with mainstream appeals -- who enjoy the outrageousness.

Tell us about what is involved in following the VHEMT philosophy.
I'm not really fond of following. I like to think of VHEMT Volunteers as leaders -- leading the way to a better world. Supporters of VHEMT don't go along with extinction of Homo Sapiens, they simply agree that the intentional creation of one more of us by anyone anywhere can't be justified at this time. Volunteers favor extinction as the only sure way of preventing us from repopulating right back to where we are today. Some times saving the planet is as much about what we don't do as do do. By not reproducing more than we already have, we are avoiding another lifetime of resource consumption and production of toxins. Wildlife habitat won't have to be converted to human habitat.

What would you say is the ideal human population for the Earth? And explain why.
Zero. We were at a sustainable number only 10 to 12 thousand years ago -- now look. As long as one breeding couple remains, Earth's biosphere is in danger.

If numerous things about our societies are not soon changed, do you foresee a dark future for mankind? A twilight of humankind?
Yes. Even if not one more human were ever born, if we don't change our naughty ways, we will experience a future akin to the many sci-fi movies depicting a post-apocalypse world.

I'm sure a lot of people who view your webpage wonder what kind of person you are. Perhaps you can illuminate your life and upbringing to us?
I'm fairly typical of North American culture, though I'd like to think I'm raising above it.

When did you first realize what you believe in, regarding the VHEMT?
It was a gradual realization. I became interested in environmental issues in the early 70s, found the connection between human increase and degradation, and began supporting ZPG. It wasn't long before I realized that stopping at two offspring was pandering to existing values rather than helping people gain a new awareness.

To quote your page, an interesting truth- 'Many cling to the quaint notion that we are still a part of Nature. On some philosophical level there is no doubt some truth feeding the myth. However, by examining our daily lives, and asking ourselves, "What part of my day is a part of Nature?" the sad truth is revealed.'
We have indeed 'fallen' out of nature in our processed lives. What do you think were some of the causes for this, and, in the end, the eventual effects?
It's fun to imagine how Homo Sapiens evolved into exotic invaders. Was it all the free time afforded us as we fed on abundant seafood and ate psychotrophic plants? Somehow we got so clever to constantly create technologies beyond our abilities to deal with.
Regardless of how we got here, here we are. Now, what are we going to do about it?

And alas, your words to the world. You final thoughts and words of wisdom.
We have the same choices as that mythical aboriginal tribe in Australia: adapt to a technological world or die out. It's too late to return to the Pleistocene -- six billion people can't live lightly on the planet. Perhaps as we phase ourselves out we can reunite with Nature.
Each of us has many choices. We can party until the end of the world, we can work to preserve what's left of the wild, and hopefully we will choose to refuse to add another one of us to the burgeoning billions.

May we live long and die out.

Les U. Knight, Editor
These EXIT Times
P.O. Box 86646
Portland OR 97286-0646
Phone: 503-788-6379
Fax: 503-977-0980

Web site:

Back to Interviews