Ever stop and think the planet would be a better place if humans weren't around? Les U. Knight came to that conclusion long ago, and unlike you, he's doing something about it. He's the founder of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, which aims to rid Earth of humans. Sounds like a depressing goal, right? Well, VHEMT (say it as "vehement") is actually pretty upbeat about the whole thing. To clarify, the organization's website notes it doesn't advocate for suicide, it's not a suicide cult, and yes, it likes babies. But it also states that the annihilation of humans would give Earth a chance to recover. This idea isn't exactly new: The Awl points to an overpopulation-minded essay published in 1798. But as the Awl puts it, VHEMT is "the only serious organization committed to peacefully annihilating all of humanity." As its unofficial motto goes, "May we live long and die out."
Knight—who had a vasectomy at 25, per Big Issue—started the group in 1991 and gained supporters with the zine These Exit Times, which included essays and comics, and, once, a Valentine's Day contest to win a free vasectomy. Those who are fully on board are known as "volunteers," though all they had to do to "join" was "make the choice to refrain from further reproduction." Writing for the Awl, Joe Veix sees a problem: "If we are to assume that humans are so selfish/destructive that the earth is better off without us, it also holds that we're too selfish/destructive to ever actually allow ourselves to die off." Knight offers this counterpoint: "We're spreading memes, not genes, so the more people who learn of VHEMT, whether they agree or not, it's a success," he says. "I'd like to think there are more than a few people who don't exist thanks to our encouragement." The Awl has more. (Read more overpopulation stories.)