These words are taken from the classic 1951 film directed by Robert Wise: The Day the Earth Stood Still. The film, based on a short story by Harry Bates, is about an alien, Klaatu, who comes to earth in order to warn humanity of its pending obliteration by an interplanetary police force, unless it mends its destructive ways. The words were uttered to Gort, the robot, after Klaatu was shot. They delivered a stay of execution. Nevertheless, the film ends with the ball in earth’s court; their decision still to be made. We are now in 2020 and it seems as though many of our leaders are still hellbent on pursuing a self-destructive agenda.
Tackling the problem, the VHEMT way
So far, we have not, as far as I am aware, received such a message. Nevertheless, there are some who genuinely believe that the planet will never be safe as long as we are around. The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement (VHEMT) thinks that the best solution to the problem is the voluntary extinction of the human race. VHEMT was founded by Les Knight, an American environmentalist in the 1970s when he decided that all other options for saving the planet were hopeless. The idea is terrifying, but he has a point. In one of the videos on the VHEMT website (vhemt.org), we are compared to a cancer. It gets the message across clearly, as do many of the answers to some of the typical objections to the proposal.
The Earth needs people to take its side
My main objection is that only conscientious people would consider not procreating to save the planet. Of course, many conscientious people would pursue other options, like UN-aligned, for instance. But let us assume that all people of good will opted for voluntary human extinction. Who would be left? The Trumps and Putins of this world. The selfish, the greedy and the uncaring. How would the world fair better then?
Involuntary human extinction may win the day
Nevertheless, while I propose staying on and fighting for a more balanced and sustainable world, I do not exclude the possibility that VHEMT will get it way. Only the extinction will not be voluntary. Rather it will be as a consequence of our stupidity. And with the billions of innocent lives that will be lost, billions more lifeforms will also perish. Some of them, however, will survive and the world may be full of song and colours again. Should we not be striving to stick around?