There's an exciting new website called CheatNeutral.com where you can sign up to an infidelity offsetting scheme. So if you cheat on your partner, you can pay a small amount of money which will be invested in another couple who promise to be faithful on your behalf. Conversely, if you are in a rock-solid faithful relationship, you can benefit from another person's infidelity and receive a payment to help support your non-cheating lifestyle. Sounds bonkers? Of course it is.
Sounds familiar too, huh? That's because it's basically the same logic as carbon offsetting - paying money when you take a long-haul flight or buy a hummer, to be invested in planting trees somewhere to neutralise all the carbon you are responsible for emitting. The CheatNeutral website (which is of course a spoof - you did figure that out didn't you?) says that infidelity offsetting is comparable to carbon offsetting because:
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.
George Monbiot said that carbon offsetting is like the medieval idea of indulgences - paying money to the church in exchange for the forgiveness of sins. CheatNeutral says carbon offsetting is like cheating on your girlfriend then buying her jewellery and flowers afterwards. George Monbiot is my hero, but the CheatNeutral guys are funnier.