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Monday Morning Development Newsletter:  

Now you can off-set both carbon emissions and infidelity
By Lykke E. Andersen*, La Paz, 30 July 2007.

Carbon-offsetting (paying others not to emit carbon into the atmosphere so that you can keep emitting) recently got an absolutely hilarious equivalent: CheatNeutral (

This brilliant initiative allows you to pay somebody else to be faithful, so that you keep going on as usual. Of course it is recommended that you first look for ways of reducing your cheating. But once you have done this, you can use CheatNeutral to offset the remaining, unavoidable cheating. This supposedly neutralizes the pain, unhappiness and heartbreak in the atmosphere and leaves you with a clear conscience.

According to Pete Witucki (1), there are at least five ways in which CheatNeutral is like carbon off-setting:

1.       CheatNeutral tries to make it seem acceptable to cheat on your partner. In the same way, carbon offsetting tries to make it acceptable to carry on emitting excess carbon.

2.       CheatNeutral doesn't really do much to reduce the amount of cheating in the world. Carbon offsetting does very little to reduce global carbon emissions.

3.       It seems impossible to measure how much harm cheating on someone does. With carbon offsetting, there is currently no practically feasible way of measuring how much carbon offset projects actually save.

4.       Having CheatNeutral's services available could actually encourages you to cheat more. If the carbon offsetters persuade you that it's possible to offset your emissions, you'll carry on emitting excess carbon through your lifestyle rather than think about reducing your emissions.

5.       CheatNeutral is fundamentally the wrong way to go about solving problems with your relationships. Carbon offsetting is fundamentally the wrong way to go about tackling climate change.

According to the same author there are also two ways in which CheatNeutral is not like carbon offsetting:

1.       Nobody makes money out of CheatNeutral. Offset companies in the voluntary carbon market take a cut of every transaction and make a profit.

2.       CheatNeutral is a joke that was thought up in a pub. Carbon offsetting presents itself as a credible solution to climate change, described by the British government's chief scientist Sir David King as "the most severe problem that we are facing today, more serious even than the threat of terrorism…"

Related articles:

        - The Cynical Economist: Getting Our Priorities Straight

        - WARNING! Excessive use of the Precautionary Principle may be bad for you

        - Managing Change

(*) Director, Institute for Advanced Development Studies, La Paz, Bolivia. The author happily receives comments at the following e-mail:
(1) Pete Witucky published this piece in the blog: theCORgroup ( on 5 June 2007. It was so perfect that it is rep
roduced almost in its entirety here.  

Ó Institute for Advanced Development Studies 2006. The opinions expressed in this newsletter are those of the author and do not necessarily coincide with those of the Institute.

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