Waterlines: Confluence and Hope through Environmental Communication. The 15th biennial Conference on Communication and Environment (COCE). June 17-21, 2019, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

Finding Hope in the End: An Ecocritical Analysis of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement

Angie McAdam's picture
Author(s): 
McAdam, Angie
Category of presentation: 
Scholarly papers
Abstract: 

Our planet is experiencing climate change, drastic losses in biodiversity, and many other environmental issues. While many individuals may be struggling to find ways in which they can do something to help address the current ecological crisis, one movement presents a radical option. The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, which advocates for extinction of humankind by simply choosing not to reproduce, represents a resolute and surprising spirit of hopefulness in the face of environmental crisis.

For this paper, I studied The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement (VHMET) website and identified the organization’s beliefs and values. I then analyzed them from an ecocritical perspective, drawing on deep ecology and ecofeminist thought. To do this, I performed a discourse analysis of the website to locate language that expressed values and beliefs. After conducting my analysis, I discovered that VHMET clearly expresses several core values, including: biocentrism, freedom, voluntariness, unity, responsibility, and hope.

I conclude that VHEMT does reflect the ecological values and takes these values to a radical, but nonviolent, conclusion. The sincerity of its biocentrism perspective allows members to see positivity and hope in the vision of a human-free planet. Ultimately, I do not think VHEMT will ever reach its goal. I believe that VHEMT members know and accept this. However, I argue that this social movement organization represents a sincere and passionate response to climate change that our society desperately needs, offering a fresh, albeit challenging, perspective on what the actions of humanity should be in the face of climate change.