Me discussing VHEMT on Bloggingheads

This was recorded about 2 months ago. Today Bloggingheads finally posted it – SURPRISE! Now everyone who didn’t figure it out before will know that the nice lady who made SSTB is also in the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement. Please, please watch the whole thing – you may be surprised.

Update: comments on this video inspired a Mimi & Eunice comic!


Author: Nina Paley

Animator. Director. Artist. Scapegoat.

24 thoughts on “Me discussing VHEMT on Bloggingheads”

  1. Where do I sign up to be a card-carrying VHEMT?

    I happened to see “the cove” yesterday.
    We are such a disgusting species. We cant live in peace among ourselves and we cant let other species live either. We’re the worst plague to ever hit a live planet.
    The sad part is that theres no bright future for us. Stupidity breeds like crazy and things are only going to go downhill.

  2. That’s interesting!
    I think I agree with you to a large extent. I would like to point out however that some human civilizations are capable to live in harmony with their environment. So I believe that our occidental way of living is to blame, not the whole humanity.

  3. About the appearance – interesting and thought provoking. I certainly don’t agree with you but the discussion was interesting to follow. For me your views were contradictory in many ways. One that bothered me most was that the best way to promote your views is to have children as they are most easily influenced by you (not a guaranteed result of course) and the world be a better place with more intelligent, enlightened people running around rather than the other kind…

    And obviously if humans would die out and take nature with them, they are not going to take all of them, probably not even most of it in terms of biomass. And if some species are going to die out, that means there will be new species that will replace them. This is a dynamic not a static world and it is arbitrary to say that species-configuration of 1900 is better than species-configuration-2010. Nature prefers creative destruction.

    Private ownership of nature normally means the preservation of it. Public ownership (if you can call it that, because if it belongs to everyone it belongs to no one) usually means destruction of nature.

    And this discussion would be nothing without some wisdom from George.

    P.S. I’m sorry to let you know (but I’m not sorry for myself obviously) that I’m doing my part of getting Estonia out of negative population growth by having my second child this past Wednesday.

  4. You were terrific; but how about your blogging partner: was it good for you? He seemed to start out with a plan, to tie you down on a few strategic points of technology, then having secured you, to focus on your key tactics. But then you wriggled free, by claiming only one, which was a fait accompli; and from that point he fizzled, you dazzled, and he couldn’t even make it to the end before giving in.

    Oh, and thanks so much for Sita.

  5. @Paul – Fortunately, I don’t expect anyone to agree with me. It’s cool on those very rare occasions when they do, but if I clung to that expectation I wouldn’t have any friends. Also, oddly, there are some issues very dear to me, wherein the people who do agree with me I can’t actually stand. Hooray for social diversity!

  6. Nina..

    I already posted this comment over at IEET, and thought I would also post it here for you to read. I also watched your animation “Sita Sings the Blues” and loved it.. Bless Humanity!( for the best of virtues it possesses) – Hari OM!

    Vehemently VHEM?

    Well it doesn’t quite appear that way? Nina Paley stands with humans, loves humans and decries humanity, although I still fail to understand this basic contradiction. All life and all lives are to be cherished, and although humans may be deemed as destructive hunter-gatherers at the gene level, this is very much likely to change in the near future, once competitiveness is finally put to rest. Humanity comprises so much more than merely biological form and must be preserved. Despite our destructive tendencies, humans are in fact the only life form that can preserve life and prolong existing species on this planet.

    The argument for destruction of species as the cause of suffering is valid, yet also the fact that many species naturally face extinction as new species evolve, and indeed are evolving at this very moment, and adjusting through evolutionary process to deal with the Earth’s natural global warming cycles. The dinosaurs did not die out because of humans, but because of the destructive tendencies of the Earth’s climate cycles and other existential risks. The Earth and evolutionary processes deemed them not worthy, and neither cultural nor intelligent enough to survive. Yet it is said that varied bird species evolved as consequence?

    What better way to celebrate the glory of humanity with it’s empathic, altruistic, Self-reflective, cultural, ethical, humorous and intellectual attributes, than with Nina Paley’s creative animation of the tale of betrayed love in “Sita Sings the Blues”. This animation alone totally contradicts the reasoning behind VHEM, (at least the way I see it?)

    Watch, enjoy, embrace and reflect!


  7. O noes!

    I expect this must be owing to physics: a popular incline against strange things, lest they become entangled in attraction. But fear not: a nation divided against Xenos cannot long stand (After a while, it starts to feel a little fatigue coming on, and must be Sita’d.).

    I have already been spreading the word-picture. And may you soon receive the mighty Bloggingheads Bump!

  8. That was a thoughtful discussion. It seems like a lot of the commentators didn’t watch the whole thing, or if they did they only heard the negative things they wanted to jump on and not the good balance of dialog you and the host had.

    Years ago at a party when I was having a good time talking to this woman (
    I was single at the time), a very good time- until it came out that I never wanted to have children. She glared at me, looked at her drink like she was going to throw it in my face and said, “Monster!” and stormed off. I stood there dumbfounded trying to figure out what happened for a long time. I never said SHE couldn’t have any, just that I chose never to. I really don’t understand why that’s such a threat to some people.

    I imagine it must be even more difficult to deal with some other people who just don’t get it (as in, its a conscious choice for some to NOT have kids) if you’re a woman.

  9. @cainmark It seems that I am the only critic in this thread and I watched the whole thing. The dialog had a good balance and it was enjoyable to watch it, but I don’t agree with Nina or Mike. From my POV they have several false premises mostly coming from contemporary green movement who give facts as negative spin as possible.

    I like Nina’s art (Sita, Mimi and Eunice) and I agree with her take on copyright and culture. I also agree with her on social diversity 🙂

  10. Hi Nina,

    This was quite an interesting discussion. You are right to be concerned that people will think of you as a monster. The first thing that comes to mind upon hearing the name “Voluntary Human Extinction Movement” is that it’s probably some kind of suicide cult. And the whole hippie-tree-hugger-like philosophy about how you’d rather have the human race go extinct rather than see the mass extinction of all other species makes it look much worse.

    I have decided not to have kids, but my reasons for making that choice are not the same as yours. But I did agree with a lot of what you said. I feel like on some level, you wish you could just step aside and let the world unravel as it’s supposed to. I would encourage you to try and place your ideas about all this within a larger, more galactic context.

  11. Thank you Nina for that smart exchange of ideas. You did a great job to spread the words of VHEMT!

  12. Hi Nina,

    Fun podcast, I listened to it Sunday. I strongly agree with your values on both free culture and our threat to nature, and I love your art.

    However when I first heard of VHEMT a few years ago my impression was that they are fighting human exceptionalism with – more human exceptionalism.

    What I mean is, imagine two columns:

    On the left, list all the animal species that have managed to live in some kind of balance with nature.

    On the right, list all the species that have volunteered themselves out of existence, at a time of high resources with no external threats.

    I got zero in the right column. VE seems unprecedented in the 4-billion-year history of all life, not just human life.

    Humans refusing themselves 95% of the resources they consume does seem unlikely, but it only makes them refusing 100% look vastly less likely. And it was less desirable in the first place. What’s left?

    P.S. I still think you are brilliant and a goddess to behold. Is that wrong?

  13. Thanks John! You may have missed the part of the interview where I say that VHEMT has 2 chances of success: slim and none. You may also have missed the part where I said that answering questions about VHEMT was like trying to explain Dada.

  14. Yeah, I’ve been wondering about why nobody picked up on your Dada remark. Also wondering how it is that NOBODY seems to have scrolled down far enough on the page to pick up on the full name of the founder…

  15. Mz P –

    Did you notice: yours is the only currently listed blogging heads pairing with even one single little star; and it has five. From what I can tell, it was the humans who put comments on it who gave it that rating.

    It might be a sign of progress.

  16. Well I’ll be darned. Thanks! The 5 stars might mean “thank god the commenters shouted down that crazy lady” but they might mean something better, too.

  17. Yep, Nina, you’re a star. Your agent will have to negotiate a higher fee for your next appearance.

    & what about Mimi & Eunice as bloggingheads? I mean, that’s pretty much what they are anyhow.

  18. Nina,

    I’m sure you’ve encountered the issue I’m about to describe, but I don’t see it quite presented here and I’m interested to hear your take…

    I think it’s laudable to consider leveling off or reducing our rate of reproduction, and to discuss the effects that increased population have had and will continue to have on the Earth. For that, I give the VHEMNT credit and praise. However, to suggest that a goal of total human extinction would be “good,” in any rational sense of the word, strikes me as needlessly extreme, and in my view, self-contradictory (more on that in a moment). Maybe you merely mean to provoke? Or to state an impossible and even undesirable goal in order to encourage discussion and perhaps reach a more reasonable one?

    It seems to me that the VHEMNT goal of total human extinction is paradoxical, in that it privileges a specifically human perception of natural perfection (aka a “healthy” biosphere), while at the same time saying that human perception of, or presence within, that perfection has no value or meaning. The Earth is several billion years old and has undergone constant radical change over that time. There is no one state that could be conisdered ideally “healthy.” What we consider to be a “healthy” biosphere is simply our perception of a biosphere that would be well suited to human life; that is to say, it is a biosphere with clean air with the right mix of gasses, clean water, abundant and varied plant and animal life not overtly hostile to humans, a temperate climate, etc. The planet has taken many forms over its history, most of which would be a nightmare for most species that exist today (including human life).

    To say that humanity is an “exotic invader” may be true, but that carries no value judgement along with it outside of a human perspective. Doing so seems to be a religious assertion (this is not necessarily an indictment, just a thought). For example, when plant life first appeared on the planet, it was the “exotic invader,” expelling poisonous oxygen into the atmosphere leading to mass extinctions and death. It would be difficult to imagine making and argument expressing regret for that phenomenon.

    I would be eager to read your thoughts on this.


  19. Nina..

    Indeed all is change and impermanence, (Anicca), and the Earth will take care of herself in one form or another. Species and life will rise and fall in one form or another, as the climate cycles and ecosystem change. A new ice age would bring the destruction of many species and the Earth’s ecosystem would once again be transformed and reborn anew. We may only hope that this may never happen for ourselves as humans before we can evolve as posthumans. Yet if it is to happen, it most certainly will and we will not halt it. What will be, will be?

    We may also assume that this may indeed be the case for many other solar systems and planets in the vast universe. This does not however negate our responsibilities as humans who have now evolved through the enlightenment and industrial age to understand and contemplate these things. We are ourselves continually evolving; “we are the universe” which has evolved to become aware of itself and to contemplate our own awareness, our own intellect and the evolution of our culture and ethics – what a joyous miracle this is! (And notice I did not even mention God, until now that is. Or is it really Brahman?)

    How can you change 6.8 billion minds to contemplate Self-ishness, consumerism, and the need for change?

    Now humans have evolved to understand these effects of our presence and the consequences of our self-ishness as individuals, perhaps the goal of the new age is to embrace unity and connectedness and to spread the message of change, and use our global information technologies to share and educate and communicate. To transform “global consciousness” and to promote spiritual and ethical evolution – towards the understanding of “who we are”, our connectedness to each other and to our planet and ecosystem, and of our place in the evolutionary processes of the entire cosmos and universe. To embrace existentialism and personal responsibility, and not merely to hope for a mystical life after death, or place blame on the will of God for our destiny?

    I believe we as humans will either evolve to higher spiritual and intellectual awareness, or we will face extinction as natural consequence. We humans have faced numerous existential risks since we first evolved from mud pools, and still do face these risks every day. The reasons for our existence and evolution as humans may be accidental, inconsequential and our emergence merely by the grace of potential and for no more reason than “it happened”, yet the universe “has” evolved to become aware of it-Self and to seek the answers of it’s own existence – for this reason we are truly special and may even be unique? It is our duty to evolve further, to realise our mistakes, and to change for the better. We are the only species thus far that has evolved to break free of natural evolution using our intellect and technology. There is much more potential for humans to evolve further, and this journey all begins with the wisdom of “Self understanding”.

    Hari OM!

    Here are some links you may be interested in..?

    David Attenborough to be patron of Optimum Population Trust

    ” Sir David Attenborough said yesterday that the growth in global population was frightening, as he became a patron of an organisation that campaigns to limit the number of people in the world.”


    What is the Optimum Population Trust?

    The Optimum Population Trust is the leading environmental charity and think tank in the UK concerned with the impact of population growth on the environment. OPT research covers population in relation to climate change, energy, resources, biodiversity, development impacts, ageing and employment and other environmental and economic issues. It campaigns for stabilisation and gradual population decrease globally and in the UK.


    Please checkout this short video message from Greenpeace international (90 secs). Please use it on your website, blog etc. if you can : spread the message!

    Give Earth a Hand
    “This fragile Earth deserves a voice. It needs solutions. It needs change. It needs you.”


    The Symphony of Science is a musical project headed by John Boswell, designed to deliver scientific knowledge and philosophy in musical form. Here you can watch music videos, download songs, read lyrics and find links relating to the messages conveyed by the music.”


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