“May We Live Long and Die Out”

How a global movement to extinguish the human race won its latest convert: me

Wudan Yan
Published in
14 min readJul 10, 2018


Credit: Matriyoshka/iStock/Getty

InIn Portland, Oregon, hardly a weekend goes by without some kind of street fair or outdoor market. Even on a blisteringly hot Saturday last July, the Division-Clinton street fair was in full swing. Food vendors and political groups lined the streets; families with kids and strollers filled in the gaps. But one of the booths was not like the others. It had a prominent green banner reading, “Thank you for not breeding.” A table was perched underneath the tent canopy, with a cartoon of a dodo bird alongside a dinosaur with its left arm around a human silhouette. “Visualize VOLUNTARY HUMAN EXTINCTION,” it read. “May we live long and die out.” Behind the table was a man named Les U. Knight.

A young couple looked quizzically at the signs, then approached Knight.

“Is this about not breeding cats and dogs?” they asked.

“It’s about all domesticated animals,” replied Knight, smiling. The corners of his piercing blue-gray eyes turned up as well. “But especially humans.”

Knight, a tall, lanky man in his early seventies with a mat of silver hair, is the leader of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement—VHEMT (pronounced…