Infidelity a problem? Offset your cheating online

If you can offset carbon emissions, why not offset your extra-marital affairs?

A Web site is offering people the chance to offset their infidelity by paying random strangers to remain faithful in a satirical bid to highlight its view of carbon offsetting as an "inadequate" and "misguided" response to climate change.

Cheatneutral began as a joke amongst three friends - Beth Stratford, Alex Randall and Christian Hunt - and works in two ways to tame fast females and philanderers.

Users can freely sign up to become a Cheatneutral "project", meaning they agree to remain single or monogamous in order to neutralize the cheating of somebody else. Or they can offset their own cheating by sponsoring a "project" with a one-time £2.50 payment.

The site suggests that jealousy and heartbreak are a natural part of modern life, and that no matter how hard we try to reduce the amount we cheat on our partners, it is just not possible to remain faithful.

"That's why we help you neutralize your cheating," the site says. "Your actions are offset by a global network of fidelity developed by us. By paying Cheatneutral, you're funding monogamy-boosting offset projects - we simply invest the money you give us in monogamous, faithful or just plain single people, to encourage them to stay that way."

Beth Stratford said Randall and Hunt came up with the idea one night in a bar.

"All winter we'd been talking about how carbon offsetting is such an inadequate and misguided response to climate change. We realized that launching an infidelity offset service - and then filming the public and media response - would be an entertaining and seductive way to draw people into the debate."

"Reassuringly (for human nature) we've actually had very few people signing up to offset cheating, we're not talking any great sum of money," Stratford said.

Each member of the team works in the environmental sector, but Stratford stresses that Cheatneutral is a project entirely independent of their day jobs.

Randall works for the UK's Centre for Alternative Technology, Hunt for the Public Interest Research Centre, and Stratford is currently working on a feature film about climate change.

The trio's inspiration stems from a belief that the carbon offset industry does more harm than good. They feel that even if the offset market was properly regulated and accountable, the culture of offsets would still present a significant obstacle to effective action in combating climate change.

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Andrew Hendry

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