We’ve all heard that lemmings jump into the sea every year, drowning themselves because they are just following the herd. Except they don’t. That’s actually a myth invented for a Disney wildlife documentary, and it has blinded us to the truth about the weird lives of lemmings for decades.
That’s ok though, we’ve filled the vacuum ourselves;
We’re the only species evolved enough to consciously go extinct for the good of all life, or which needs to.
The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement would very much prefer it if you could refrain from reproducing and persuade everyone you know to follow suit.
Well for the same reason The Club of Rome would like you to stop breathing;
The Earth has cancer and the cancer is Man.
They’ve taken the Buddhist (and several other religions, to be fair) belief that life is mainly suffering, extrapolated it and come to the conclusion that the most appropriate response is that we put a stop to the whole cycle.
Is this a reasonable conclusion supported by the weight of evidence, do we think?
First, let’s look at the reasons put forward by this group, why do we need to take such a radical step? Is it to reduce human suffering?
No, the explanations given on their website are all to the benefit of the surviving species and, in fact, are quite disparaging and unsympathetic about human suffering, as this example illustrates;
Naturally, it’s not that simple, but just for fun, let’s envision an impossible dream: all human sperm suddenly and permanently loses viability—no impregnated human egg begins meiosis to form a zygote—none transforms from embryo into the sacred fetus, is carried to term and sentenced to life. Zero conceptions, wanted nor un.
A wonderful fantasy. Phones in crisis pregnancy centers would fall mysteriously silent. Sperm banks would go bankrupt after fraudulently milking the infertile. Adoption agencies would fruitlessly increase baby bounties, and charge an arm and a leg for whoever’s in stock, damaged or not. Needless panic would be hilarious. Like people frantically searching for their oars after the boat has beached.
Or, to paraphrase, “Yes, you pathetic people who feel the need to altruistically raise someone else’s orphaned child just because you are infertile, how pathetic of you compared to us, the people with the monopoly of righteousness.”.
So, it’s all about the surviving species.
Ok, let’s ponder that concept for a moment. Will a lack of humans cause flora and fauna to have an increased level of happiness? Well, we could have a lengthy debate about the nature of happiness and even consciousness, but one suspects we’ll not reach much of a consensus before anyone reading this becomes personally extinct.
Flip it around the other way perhaps; will a lack of humans result in a net reduction in pain and suffering of plants and animals?
Sure, factory-farmed animals will not experience the short and poor quality lives they currently have, mainly because they won’t be born. What about those animals that will be born in the wild after we’ve shuffled off this mortal coil? Do we think they will organise themselves in to peaceful communes or will they just fall prey to the next apex predator down the food chain?
We might even ponder a future earth without humans where another species evolves to fill the vacuum. Do we think the new intelligent species will pick up our musty old literature, read what we did to ourselves, be inspired for the love of Gaia and hold a vote to do the same?
If you’re reading this looking for the answer to the ultimate question of why we are here and what our purpose is on the planet, I’m afraid you’ll have to leave feeling slightly short-changed.
However, we can have a good punt at what the meaning of life isn’t.
We are not born to capitulate, roll over and die. There is nothing unique or beautiful about giving up, it’s been the easiest and most likely thing to happen throughout the history of the planet.
The philosophy behind VHEM has a fundamental flaw; they’ve confused the statement, “life is mainly suffering” with the statement “life is always suffering”. The gap between the two statements is filled with beauty, kindness and joy, albeit brief.
No, if you think humans are a cancer that needs to be surgically removed…. you go first.
Better still, let us know how you get on once you’ve reached TELAH.