From The World Without Us by Alan Weisman ...
Les Knight is the founder of VHMET - the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement - is thoughtful, soft-spoken, and quite serious.
"Suppose ... that one virus that would truly be effective strikes, and all human sperm loses viability. The first to notice would be crisis-pregnancy centers, because no one would be coming in. Happily, in a few months abortion providers would be out of business. It would be tragic for people who kept trying to conceive. But in five years, there would be no more children under five dying horribly."
The lot of all living children would improve, he says, as they became more valuable rather than more disposable. No orphan would go unadopted.
"In 21 years, there would be, by definition, no juvenile delinquency." By then, as resignation sinks in, Knight predicts that spiritual awakening would replace panic, because of a dawning realization that as human life drew toward a close, it was improving. There would be more than enough to eat, resources would be plentiful, including water, The seas would replenish. Because new housing wouldn't be necessary, so would forests and wetlands.
"With no more resource conflicts, I doubt we'd be wasting each other's lives in combat. Like retired business executives who suddenly find serenity by tending a garden, Knight envisions us spending our remaining time helping rid an increasingly natural world of unsightly and now useless clutter, in pursuit of which we'd once swapped something alive and lovely.
"The last humans could enjoy their final sunsets peacefully, knowing they have returned the planet as close as possible to the Garden of Eden."
Now, I know that's a lot to dump here out of context. The book I took that from is one I am enjoying, if you can call it that, one which postulates in a number of ways how the planet would respond if humans suddenly, one day and for no particular reason, either ceased to exist or simply dropped dead. So it is a book filled with all types of extreme theories about how resilient, or not, nature truly is to our overwhelming effect on it.
And yet, in spite of spectacular descriptions of New York City reverting to a wildness or my house disintegrating (in detail) I found the previous passage to be the most disturbingly shocking idea in the entire book, and the stupidest, least intuitive or well-reasoned concept I have been exposed to in some time.
"It would be tragic for people who kept trying to conceive." You think? And by "people" Knight seems to suggest there would only be a few of them, people who can't see reason, and keep trying.
"But in five years, there would be no more children under five dying horribly." Oh well, I can certainly understand - buh what?! That's like the joke about the guy who dies and his doctor tells the family that at least his condition has stabilized.
But of course, Knight's point is that humans are nothing special. I'm an open-minded guy. Maybe we aren't. But his theory, like a lot of collective society theories, assume everyone thinks the exact same way, and want the exact same things. When would resignation sink in, exactly? Ever? Those people who can't accept human extinction, which is to say most of them, won't go away, leaving behind those few who are okay with it. And wars aren't always started for "good" reasons (like resources) but sometimes for hateful and murderous reasons.
Maybe it's because I'm such a fan of the movie Children of Men which suggests a human race on the brink would be morose, helpless and vicious, and nothing like peaceful "retired business executives."
I mean, wasn't everyone who started the Iraq War a retired business executive? Honestly.
(Oh, Happy Thanksgiving.)