NTE: Two Lives Prevented

by E. Farber

Let me start by saying that I’m not writing this essay for the purpose of publicly flagellating myself, nor am I appealing for sympathy. My purpose is to communicate the degree to which I have internalized the seriousness of Near Term Extinction and to reignite conversations about personal sacrifice in the face of a future that we know is doomed. So what if it doesn’t matter in the end? Having an open forum for discussion makes some of us feel less alone. This is a world where people judge those who make decisions based on a future that no powerful entities (governments, corporations, academic institutions, the media etc.) will acknowledge or speak about. By interacting with like-minded individuals, it can be easier to make sane choices in the face of insanity.

I have been following NBL since 2012. I can’t remember exactly how I came across it, but I did and the information blew me away. It made sense. Not wanting to blindly adapt my belief system based on the research of one person, I investigated further. I read books and articles, watched interviews, and spent a good deal of time reading online comments. Most of the latter is garbage, but sometimes there are a few gems hidden amongst the waste. I also took a good, hard look at the state of the world around me. I couldn’t help it — everything I saw screamed UNSUSTAINABLE. And that’s when I decided, for better or worse, that I would pitch my tent in the doomer camp.

From that point on my approach to daily living shifted. As someone who has had it rough in many areas of life, I was already familiar with trying to find comfort whenever and wherever I could find it. But realizing the futility of trying to carve out a more traditional, more socially-approved existence kicked my hedonistic tendencies into high gear. I engaged in many questionable activities, but I was content. I believed that my attitude towards life was fairly balanced. After all, I cared too much about the wellbeing of others to indulge in behaviors that were totally reckless. Or so I thought.

I’ll cut to the chase — this past summer I got knocked up. I’m 27, single, and in my final year of graduate school. My student loan debt is out of control and the father is broke. I don’t consider myself to be the “mothering type.” Those things aside, after I got over the initial shock of finding out that I was pregnant my feelings changed. Hormones flooded my body. I was struck with a sense of peace that I had never experienced before. Even as I battled queasiness and crushing fatigue, I felt a bizarre sense of care for the unplanned life inside me. But even with cozy feelings radiating from within, I couldn’t ignore the conclusions I had drawn. Could I really bring a child into the world when there was overwhelming evidence that she/he would not have the opportunity to live a full life? Or much of a life at all? I agonized. I engaged in mental gymnastics — maybe I am nuts and the evidence is wrong. Maybe technology really will come through. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, I’m not sure), I have never been able to buy into delusional thinking for very long. I knew what I had to do.

Fifteen minutes before I began the process of halting the pregnancy I had my first and only sonogram. I looked blankly at the tiles on the ceiling as the doctor informed me that I was carrying twins. That information generated two opposing feelings simultaneously: that I was a monster for destroying something so special and that I was absolutely doing the right thing. When the time came, I was ushered into a room and offered a pill that would stop the production of progesterone — a key pregnancy hormone — in my body. I did not hesitate. With a sip from a Dixie cup of water I swallowed it immediately and sealed our fates. The second set of pills taken the next day brought an unspeakable physical pain that I will never forget and that I fully deserved. A week later I had an IUD inserted into my still-bleeding uterus.

I have reflected on the pregnancy and termination daily in the months since. I feel deep sorrow and extreme regret for being so careless as to get pregnant in the first place. I feel a deep ache in my heart knowing that I turned down the one unexpected opportunity I had to be a mom. But after the first twenty minutes of lying in bed each night feeling self-hatred and despair, a light is switched. I remember what the world is like and where it is headed. Knowing that I prevented two lives from entering such a fucked-up place, I am finally able to sleep.


E. Farber is an artist and designer living in the Midwest. She’s currently in her third and final year of graduate school. While others might not consider it a prudent idea to pursue an advanced degree in painting, she figures that she might as well do what she loves because she’ll be dead long before her student loans can be fully paid back anyway. Although she has been forced to hide it from faculty members and peers for numerous reasons (disinterest and disbelief chief among them) her work explores the myriad feelings and experiences that come from being one of the few people who understand that the world as we know it will end in the not so distant future.

Comments 134

  • Tom, Wiki has a thorough run down on gentleman Ridley, KBE.

    This brain boggling fact makes it much worse – fatally worse.

    You can’t blame it on the gawddam movies either.

    Is he lying, or does he believe it?

    Ridley was educated at Eton College from 1970–75 and then went on to Magdalen College, Oxford, where he completed a BA degree with First Class Honours in zoology and then took a DPhil degree in zoology in 1983.


    His detailed pedagogy for children still rings true after almost 400 years.

    The influence of Comenius on educational thought is comparable with that of his contemporaries, Bacon and Descartes, on science and philosophy.

    In fact, he was largely influenced by the thought of these two; and his importance is largely due to the fact that he first applied or attempted to apply in a systematic manner the principles of thought and of investigation, newly formulated by those philosophers, to the organization of education in all its aspects.

    The summary of this attempt is given in the Didactica Magna, completed about 1631, though not published until several years later.[8]

    The truly magical internet brings Comenius’s 17TH century democratic dream of universal knowledge & unfettered information for all people to reality.


    “The road to freedom is on the internet.”

    Counterfeit exists because there is real gold.

    Lying & distortion exist because there is real truth.

    Take the joyous internet road to liberating freedom & truth.

    Thanks to the internet, all you need – is to want the truth, & then look for it.


    Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
    And sorry I could not travel both
    And be one traveler, long I stood
    And looked down one as far as I could
    To where it bent in the undergrowth;

    Then took the other, as just as fair,
    And having perhaps the better claim
    Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
    Though as for that the passing there
    Had worn them really about the same,

    And both that morning equally lay
    In leaves no step had trodden black.
    Oh, I kept the first for another day!
    Yet knowing how way leads on to way
    I doubted if I should ever come back.

    I shall be telling this with a sigh
    Somewhere ages and ages hence:
    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference.

    Robert Frost

  • E. Farber, thanks for sharing what must have been and perhaps still is a difficult choice between emotion and intellect. i hope the rest of your life goes as well as might be hoped for under the circumstances, and if it’s any consolation, i think u did the ethical thing.

    ‘This surely sounds like an example of the exercise of free will.’

    not surreally. as always, all ‘choices’ that are made are the result of basically 2 factors, neither of which one has ‘agency’ over: genetic endowment, and environmental influence. surely, if we had ‘agency’, some of us wouldn’t even be here, and absolutely no one would choose to be trapped by ‘doom’.

  • A very intelligent,insightful, moving,honest piece, E. Farber.
    Thank you for sharing it with us.

  • Jay said “Abortion has prevented all that suffering but on the other scale they have never lived and felt joy and the sweetness of life and the wind in their hair.”

    The logic of the well-fed.

    Raptors reduce their breeding to zero when food is scarce. Unlike humans, they seem to be built not to ignore environmental factors. There is no raptor Bible and no well-fed raptor priests telling they to breed no matter what.

    Numerous letters from ancient Roman times reveal that “exposure” was a common practice, even among the literate. It was the ancient alternative to our modern abortion. Babies were abandoned to enjoy the wind in their hair. Christian hypocrites please take note that Jesus never condemned the practice or even mentioned it, just as he never condemned slavery.


  • When the sea level falls near where the sea level rises.

    What up wid dat (New Type of SLC Detection Model – 10)?

  • Gerald: thank you for pointing that out. What i wonder is why this dude gets to publish HIS OPINION in a scientific magazine AS IF it’s TRUTH? Do the Koch Bros. or R. Murdoch own Sci. Am. too? That article was appalling.

    Contrast his “it’s a long way off” to:

    UN report finds 90 per cent of disasters are weather-related – ‘The world is paying a high price in lives lost’


    2015 is set to be the hottest year on record
    The years 2011 to 2015 have been the warmest five-year period on record, with extreme events such as heatwaves influenced by climate change

  • Tom – He lives under gold bricks. Not rocks. Thanks much for the Scientific American summary. I saw the story on Yahoo but would not even dare click on it because my computer decides I want more crap just like that. Suri does not make a good gal-pal as she counts clicks like votes.

    LWA – Your the music dept sound score for the 6pm not made for MSM news! “Biz plan 102 Halliburton re-sells fracking fluid as lemonade.

    Los Angeles – Humai wants to bring people back from the dead using artificial intelligence. The firm plans to use artificial intelligence and nanotechnology to store data of conversational styles, behavioural patterns, thought processes and information on a person’s body functions from the inside-out. Google is a research partner on “H+” eternal life systems design…release the Tardigrade DNA!!

    Can they bring back a healthy planet for us to live on too??

  • Keep going Gerald Spezio ! Guy McPherson has created a fantastic blog. I have great admiration for him. This is my-go-to-site every day. I have my own preference for the many regular bloggers, but great respect for all of them. I read them all whenever I can. I’ve learned from everyone in this community and respect everyone who posts here. There should be no limits or restrictions on intelligent supported arguments or positions. Otherwise, what is the uniqueness of this site.

  • I was beginning to like Zarquon…but now I see he is exceedingly conceited and off the mark. Ugotstawonder is absolutely correct. Why would anyone want to change an opinion if the opinion is the absolute truth. Zarchon: are u a fucking republican, capitalist, white christian.

  • “What’s your opinion? Is Shunyata mere emptiness?”

    In this matter opinions dan’t count. It is being that counts, reality that counts.

    Paul Chefurka:

    When you see something, the one aware of the seeing, hear sonething, the one aware of the hearing, touch something, the one aware of the touching, smell something, the one aware of the smelling, taste something, the one aware of the tasting, think something, the one aware of thinking, feel semething (emotionally) the one aware of the feeling, is one that is the real you: the seeing and the seen, the hearing and the heard… etc. all exist within the awaresess of the “you”. The “you” does not depend on the seeing and the seen, the hearing and the heard… etc. for its existence; indeed in the absence of the body-mind complex through which all of these are mediated, all of these will be absent. One might in other circumstances say “think about it” but in this case, it is beyond thoughts.

    That “you” is not any finite defined “you”; it is what is describod in the Brihadaranyaka upanishad:

    Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 3:7:23
    “He is never seen, but is the Witness; He is never heard, but is the Hearer; He is never thought, but is the Thinker; He is never known, but is the Knower. There is no other witness but Him, no other hearer but Him, no other thinker but Him, no other knower but Him. He is the Internal Ruler, your own immortal self. Everything else but Him is mortal.”

    3.8.11 It is never heard, but is the Hearer; It is never thought, but is the Thinker; It is never known, but is the Knower. There is no other witness but This, no other hearer but This, no other thinker but This, no other knower but This.

  • E. Farber — you’re even better the second time around. What still gives me those “shivers” is my memory of the pre-cognitive dream I had after my 7-year friend and I mutually ended our two-month (both on the painful rebound from others) dalliance which we knew was not really right for us.

    This was back before DNA tests and such so I hope others will not accuse me of romanticizing our uncertainties of that time.

    A couple months later, I had a whopper of a clear dream that she came to my house, knocked on my door, I opened, and she said, “Henry, guess what. I’m pregnant.” Wrote it down in my journal that morning.

    Do I have to even mention the rest? That night, knock on the door. Open. Word-for-word, almost. Just gobsmacked me (I was hanging out with some Buddhist Brits last night, interesting vocabulary rubbing off on me) right in the face. I can’t remember anything I might have said to reply.

    This was a couple years after Roe v Wade. We were all still pretty ignorant. Your 20s can be like that.

    I tried to help out for about a year after the birth, bringing over to her apartment needed supplies, food, money, assuming the dream had confirmed he was mine. She was in a precarious mental state, having already shared a lot in common with the characters of “Girl, Interrupted”, so I didn’t push anything, in any way.

    Then she drops on me: “He’s NOT yours, and I don’t want you to have anything to do with us”, with a crazy, determined glare in her eyes that said “Don’t challenge me.” “Oh, OK” What’s a guy to do? (Anyone here know of any mothers who’ve harmed their infants under severe mental duress? A father is almost helpless to protect, as is his first instinct. And who is going to believe him, anyway?)

    And — heresy of heresies to post anywhere! — women are not always the helpless, innocent angels of much social mythologizing. However they may have arrived at that state of mind, as victims themselves, bad behavior is bad behavior. (OK, I’m venting a little too much here. Recovery from some of these encounters happens over a lifetime, it seems.)

    I backed off, still suspecting otherwise, for 9 years. She did better, new family, other really great kids and husband. Friends in the area kept me updated. Then came, “Guess what. I lied, sorry”.

    Then followed 19 years of cross-country visits, attempts to get to know each other, to little result today. The bonding opportunity was lost. No contact. Just saw the first (possible) grandbaby on Facebook, which immediately renamed it in my mind as “FuckYouBook”. (still over-venting? You betcha.)

    I am basically done with those who do not respect me enough to acknowledge my reaching out. They must not respect themselves enough to care to be even curious, is all I can figure. I have enough cogent memory from my experiences to know that the direction things are going in is likely to be the way that they end up, and I have few enough healthy decades left in my life to waste on their emptiness.

    There are wonderful new things in front of me every day. Inspiring things (like personal accounts written so wonderfully, E. Farber)

    If you are lucky enough to still have parents around, and have shown them disrespect in your past, as seems ordinary and common in children, make amends now, while you can. I am, as I realize my own role in it from before, and we have been given more time than we ever expected to have.

    Sent from Windows Mail

  • I was just sent this ‘fun’ link
    this is a data visualisation infographic filled with data on the effects food production has on our planet, but put together in a very clever way that highlights just how much is affecting sustainability.

  • Hi E. Farber-
    I really do want to see your art!! I know this might seem nitpicky and stupid, but if you go into your twitter account and go to “settings” and then go into “security and privacy” and then scroll down to the bottom and click on “receive direct messages from anyone” then we can contact you privately about your artwork. Otherwise we will be publicly tweeting “at you” or something. Or maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about. The only twitter account I have is a joke one where my friend and I put up funny quotes that my other friend says… I don’t know how to ask you about your artwork on your twitter page without publicly tweeting at you. Do you have a website?

  • For me, the issues of abortion and “women’s bodies” are and should be just that. I think they are political/religious/social issues that women (and only women) should decide.

    In other words, all the women should gather in one place (online conferences, virtual votes), debate and then decide by, for and on behalf of their mothers, sisters and daughters. Tell the men to get the f out of it. Your bodies, your biology, your decision – female supreme court judges ratify the decisions agreed upon by women.

    And while we’re at it (and in a world of so much rape of our planet, the rape of women, children and men and boys, the rampant child abuse, pedophilia, domestic and spousal abuse) why don’t all the women get together and establish a women’s political party – exclusively – after all, votes count (supposedly).

    After a short time spent counselling other women to stop buying all the useless shit the fashion industry (etc.) purvey – cosmetics, shampoos, surgeries, suctions, they then start the steady process of taking away the power that increasingly psychopathic and senile men would impose upon them.

    I am not in any way naive about what kind of struggle this might lead to – but what a noble idea.

    Just sayin’

  • @ugotstahwonder – I may have misunderstood your position on the subject of abortion, but it doesn’t matter. What I took issue with is your determination not to change your mind on this subject, or perhaps any other? That is all.

    @shep – you ask: “are u a fucking republican, capitalist, white christian.” This is a confusing question. If I had to state my politics it would be at the far left of Green Anarchist. And, if you hadn’t already guessed, I am a staunch atheist. My colour is irrelevant.

    @WoodWose – Yes! I think a matriarchy would be an excellent idea. Where do we start?

    All my own beliefs are completely open to negotiation on a continuous basis and I invite anyone to challenge them. If I am proved wrong I will welcome the correction and not take it as a personal attack. I wish to learn.

    I am finally beginning to realise that the subject of abortion is not a matter of rights of the unborn, nor rights for women, nor human rights of any kind, but one of religion. If religion was removed from the equation, I strongly suspect that the issue will instantly cease to be contentious?

    I therefore assert that we are looking at a ‘religion problem’ and that nobody is willing to confront this head-on?

    I fail to see how an aborted foetus is little different from blowing your nose after a particularly bad cold to eject an enormous lump of snot! You don’t go around all day afterwards with your head hung low thinking ‘OMG, I’ve just lost a little piece of me’! – It is not a person!



    Re: Matt Ridley. I see him as a man of two halves. When I read ‘The Origins of Virtue’ and ‘The Red Queen’ in the 90’s, I was both influenced and impressed. I did not know at the time that he was a titled member of the British aristocracy with substantial interests in coal and mineral resources. In later years he appeared out out nowhere as a shill for the carbon/anti AGW lobby and I instantly lost respect. At first, I presumed it was a different Matt Ridley, but no, it’s him alright. His earlier works are not to be dismissed though.


    I have further addressed the assertions of Gerald Spezio on the previous thread. I have nailed my colours to the mast on the matter. (as at 09.15GMT, awaiting moderation).

  • In this matter opinions dan’t count. It is being that counts, reality that counts.


  • Just received notice that the military dictator of Thailand will be received at the Paris CLimate Talks recognized fully as head of state that he obtained by kidnapping, blindfolding and abducting the leadership of the elected political party and taking them to a military base for re-education. Also having his goons threatening to blow up the elected female PM’s son in his school. And having same openly threatening to rape the elected PM and assassiating the country’s top poet among a lot of other brutal stuff. All the same business that was wink wink nudge nudged at the time by people who read this blog and should have known better at the time but didn’t. OK. I can’t help you all now.

    Anyway. If you needed further proof that Paris is worse than a ridiculous joke. There’s more of it. You’ve got this kind of person being coddled up in the city of nuclear powered life.

    Enjoy your life in the lovely bubble. Cheers and good day.

  • The Paris talks are so full of lies, obfuscation, misdirection, fantasy, double dealing double talk that it stinks to high heaven.

    James Hansen call the Paris talks “complete bullshit”.

    Nature came out with a science fiction article I commented on. My comments usually fall outside guidelines and are very quickly deleted. The only advantage I have is that it is early Sunday morning.


  • Oh yeah, more of that at desdemona despair:

    As U.S. approaches Paris climate summit, Republicans push back – ‘It is fair to conclude that the whole point of this exercise is to chill and to deter NOAA scientists’


    Paris global warming conference: Public support for tough climate deal ‘declines’


  • Dredd will be all over this

    Cold warning from Antarctica’s past

    By studying rocks at different elevations beside the East Antarctic sheet, the research team concluded that a period of rapid glacier thinning occurred in the recent geological past, and persisted for several centuries.

    Of particular concern was the potential for “marine ice sheet instability”, where an initial retreat of ice margins into deepening valleys could lead to continued, unstable ice loss.

    The new research, led by Victoria Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr Richard Jones, indicated that the processes leading to instability could be initiated by just minor climate warming.

  • Lede story @ seemorerocks today:

    Sunday, 29 November 2015
    COP21 – France’s ‘concession’ – no legally binding emissions reduction targets
    Just in case you still harboured any illusions about COP21 in Paris

    France bows to Obama and backs down on climate ‘treaty’’

    France has offered a key concession to the US on the eve of historic climate talks in Paris, saying a new global climate accord will not be called a “treaty” and might not contain legally binding emissions reduction targets.

    [sorry for over-posting, if this stuff bores you or whatever]

  • Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 3:7:23
    “He is never seen, but is the Witness; He is never heard, but is the Hearer; He is never thought, but is the Thinker; He is never known, but is the Knower. There is no other witness but Him, no other hearer but Him, no other thinker but Him, no other knower but Him. He is the Internal Ruler, your own immortal self. Everything else but Him is mortal.”

    3.8.11 It is never heard, but is the Hearer; It is never thought, but is the Thinker; It is never known, but is the Knower. There is no other witness but This, no other hearer but This, no other thinker but This, no other knower but This.

    You don’t say?

    Now what?

    If you go on like THIS about breakfast, you are going to be in big trouble.

    How have you made it this far?

    Mange bene.

  • I’ve posted an old essay with a new introduction. They can be read here.

  • Babajingo and E. Faber

    Tweetng is something I NEVER do. But I did try since E. recommended it. So far, It hasn’t worked. To my surprise, I’m told I already have an account. I was able to find a window to write in (although that was a little confusing), but when I tried to send I read a message saying tweet hadn’t YET been sent, and that message never went away after hours of waiting. I’m sure if I was willing to accept the technology and work at it I’d do better. But I tend to set it aside rather than struggle with it. I try to know and do as little as I can manage.

    Guy has been most patient with requests to put posters in touch, and I would certainly appreciate being put in touch with E. (Or the other way around.)

  • No problem, Zarquon! It allowed for the novel experience of my getting some support here! Thanks, Shep! Also, just after I related as to what I believe to be “pure bullshit” James Hansen just so happened to be reported to have used exactly those terms in what I believe is the same thing in both cases – the mincemeat that has been made of our logic and reason in the political arena. Although they refer to it as “Obama’s climate change” agenda, the Republicans are why it remains so weak and they would proudly take credit for that of which they stand accused ad we know!

  • Artleads — yes, Guy put me in touch with infantyrone, and he brought along his lady friend and others for dim sum, twice now, and what great conversation was shared among us. Hours upon hours of true pleasure that I’m looking forward to doing again.

  • Henry,

    Lucky you to have infantyrone so close by. He’s a funny gentleman too.

    If you haven’t seen the movie “transamerica” with Felicity Hoffman, do keep an eye out for it. It deals with an estranged parent, similar to what you write about yourself. And it faces femininity as few movies have.

    Babajingo and I would like to contact E. Faber. I’ll leave it up to her to make contact or not.

  • a US Navy ship just off the coast of San Francisco used a giant hose to spray a cloud of microbes into the air and into the city’s famous fog. The military was testing how a biological weapon attack would affect the 800,000 residents of the city.

    The people of San Francisco had no idea.

    The Navy continued the tests for seven days, potentially causing at least one death. It was one of the first large-scale biological weapon trials that would be conducted under a “germ warfare testing program” that went on for 20 years, from 1949 to 1969. The goal “was to deter [the use of biological weapons] against the United States and its allies and to retaliate if deterrence failed,” the government explained later. “Fundamental to the development of a deterrent strategy was the need for a thorough study and analysis of our vulnerability to overt and covert attack.”

    Of the 239 known tests in that program, San Francisco was notable for two reasons, according to Dr. Leonard Cole, who documented the episode.

    New Bio-war tests are now in progress at Dugway US base in UTAH.

  • E. Farber, Thank you for sharing your most personal experience and thoughts. I reproduced (twice) when I was just a little older than you and while my children (now in their later teens) have brought me great joy, I am tortured by the awareness that their futures have been (and continue to be) stolen from them. Our culture (if you can call it that) only compounds the concern by seducing them to worship the false gods of consumerism and discourage them from the very thinking and questioning that has lead us to our awareness of abrupt climate change, its ramifications, and the 900 pound gorilla lurking in the corner named NTHE. I commend you on making a wise (but no doubt difficult) choice. Thanks again.

  • @E. Faber
    You had a difficult analysis to make and a tough decision to follow through with. Best of luck to you in the future.

    @Helene Love
    We lost two cats within a couple months of each other about 7 years ago.
    Eventually you may be able to choose the moments during which you will remember your companion, rather than having images & thoughts homing in on you at seemingly random times. Here are a couple tunes to brighten your journey.

    Pound poetics with no Ezra ?
    Watch out for her hamster-in-law !