Life Neutral: like carbon neutral, but for kids killed by arms dealers' products

Leah sez, "DSEi, the worlds largest arms fair, takes place in London every two years. This year, Life Neutral Solutions announced that it was using the event to launch a new 'life offsetting' scheme. The company claimed that it was working with the defense industry to balance the 'unfortunate side effects' of weapons use by sponsoring the costs of raising a child in the west. After causing a bit of a fuss, it turned to be just an activist prank. The BBC World Service ran the story, but got the hoaxers to reveal their intentions. The culprits were the Space Hijackers, who have harassed the arms fair a few times before. In 2007 they even bought and sold their own tank."
You’ve heard of the importance of being carbon neutral? Well, being Life Neutral is the same - but with people. For every* life lost as a result of the use of products from our member organisations, we make sure that a new life flourishes. Join today and your next child could be a Life Neutral™ child.

Life Neutral Solutions works with the defence industry to provide solutions for balancing the unfortunate side effects of weapons use. Through sponsoring the birth and care of children in North America, the United Kingdom and Europe, Life Neutral™ is committed to offsetting the collateral effects of defence operations in third-world conflict zones.

Life Neutral Solutions is interested in working with you. We are seeking potential parents who are committed to an ethical approach to weapons use and are excited by the possibility of an integrated package that would support you in bringing new life into our world.

Life Neutral - Life Beyond Conflict (Thanks, Leah!)


  1. Wow, that’s great the’re so big on helping kids, but helping children not becoming soldiers with AK’s in their hand in the rest of the world would be a bit more helpful,yes?
    Bad for business I guess.

  2.  Yah maaannnnn, like, you can’t hug kids with nuclear arms maaaannn.

    WAR IS SUPPOSED TO BE UNPLEASANT. THATS WHY THEY ARE A LAST RESORT.  We lose something, buildings, soldiers and, yes, sometimes innocent civilians including children. Why do we beleive that we can somehow make war more palatable by decrying the deaths of civilians or doing something like this piece suggests?

    1. “THAT’S WHY THEY should be A LAST RESORT.” There, I fixed that for you.

      “Why do we believe that we can somehow make war more palatable by decrying the deaths of civilians or doing something like this piece suggests?”
      For one thing, “What do ya mean ‘we’, kemo sabe?” For another thing, the pranksters are trying to make war less palatable, so that they might actually be last resorts instead of profitable ventures to help monied interests, often called “our national interest”.

    2. If only it were truly a last resort but it never is, not really. It is almost always just another geopolitical tool. Hence the point of ridiculing it.

    3. Yeah you sound like someone who has really felt the unpleasantness of a war.

      Try living in a war zone with your family for 5 years, then consider yourself qualified to comment on the ‘unpleasantness of war’.

  3. this program misses the big picture.  I find it incredibly offensive. We don’t need to support bringing more lives in to first world countries to make up for the children dying in war torn third world countries. Do you know how many children are starving in those war-zones? A lot probably.  Life neutral should focus more on the equalization of life in the war-zone.  Those children who are unfortunately losing their lives as a result of weapons do no need to die in vain.  In most instances the meat left on their bones is still 70% palatable, and with today’s advances in hyper accurate weapons systems we are looking at a possible increase to 87% good meat left on these civilian deaths.  There is absolutely no reason any child should go starving on the battlefield when so many plentiful resources are provided.  But until programs like Life Neutral start rethinking casualties loss management strategies there is going to be a lot of opportunities for good going to waste.

    1. Yet another who has an epic fail whilst reading the article … it is a hoax – a prank to make people think about the innocent lives lost through the use of weapons.

      Now read the article again!

      1. Speaking of failures in reading comprehension….If you re-read his comment I think you’ll find that Mr. Briggs was making a modest proposal.

  4. 1) Good on the BBC for picking up the obvious prank (if only the AP could be so non-credulous)
    2) Will they also buy carbon credits, etc. to offset the increased resource utilization by a first-world child?

  5. This group is attempting the impossible, they are straining in desperation to hold back the tide of human history. Conflict isn’t by itself a good thing, but we as a species have been at it since the beginning of time and that unfortunate truth shows no signs of abatement.

    This group has a good and very pertinant policy point, yet the way they are spending their money doesn’t seem like it is truly aimed at addressing the problems they claim they want addressed. In other words rather then buying a tank, or playing a prank they probably could have spent those substantial sums on a demining operation or through a Humanitarian NGO.

    You don’t win people over with pranks, showmanship, and a desperate beg for attention. I think it would be easy for them to win followers, but it would require them to commit those funds to those conflict zones and not spend them as side-show dollars at their local arms show (no matter how big it might be).  

    Also, as a side note, if you are going to go after arms dealers, the most common weapon that is used in all those conflicts is the AK-47, and not all the wiz-bang gagetry stuff.   

    1. Goblin, you raise some good points. The facts are, however, that there’s very many NGOs out there doing just what you suggest. Our group (Space Hijackers) fit into a different, er, space. Diversity of tactics. We have some small funds to do our projects – not 1000s as you seem to think but we scrape enough to get interesting projects going. We’re not a charity, we don’t accept sponsors or dodgy donations, and none of us are trust-funded rich kids. We figure the small sums we do have are better used doing what we do best, rather than being swallowed up by all the baggage that goes with big NGO operations – paying for health and safety training,  bodyguards, flights(!) 4x4s etc.etc.

      Diversity of tactics, a broad spectrum is needed. 

      Don’t forget the type of operations you describe such as demining are picking up the pieces after conflict. We’re playing the long game, a long slow process of changing attitudes. You do win people over with pranks. Yesterday 1000s of people heard for the first time about the world’s biggest arms fair, DSEi, and what goes on there. Thanks to a prank. That’s a good start.Oh, and AK47s are on sale at DSEi.

      1. not 1000s

        Then how did you afford a “tank” as you claim on your website? Surely you can understand why I would think you had lots of cash as a “tank” is a very large and expensive piece of hardware.

        We’re playing the long game, a long slow process of changing attitudes.

        This in a way relates to a  deeper point that I was trying to make in my orginal post. You are focusing on a narrow sector, UK/ Western World and specifically an arms show, with a broad self-imposed mandate, as listed on the Life Neutral website, offset deaths in third world conflict zones. I am just interjecting the concern that the problem is very broad and exists outside of the scope for which you have defined your actions. There are more black market activities and arms dealers whom feed the problem in a much more oblique way then does any single arms/technology show. At the heart you are chosing to address one of the many symptoms of the problem and not the root cause.  I think it is fair to say that most of the western world, the people anyway, if not always its leaders, naturally eschews conflict. This is noted  when you look at the western world’s policies regarding their own militaries: no draft, all volunteer, comparable pay to civilian sector.So to get to my point, I think the western world has already more or less agreed to your message, and thats why you don’t get much play with media pranking. You are essentially preaching to the choir. The broader aspects, and strategies of this arguably world wide problem are ignored. One size doesn’t fit all, and one government can’t fix all the problems in the world. Local problems require local solutions.Thanks for your willingness to exchange ideas.

  6.  Faced with the prospect of having to offset the unfortunate side effects of cluster bombs in the 3rd world by bumping off large quantities of first world offspiring, the organizers of the DSEi today instead decided to ban two Pakistani purveyors of canister munitions:
    “They have been widely condemned because they have killed and injured
    hundreds of civilians long after conflicts have ended. One third of all
    such casualties are thought to have been children.”

  7. Is this another one of those “so sick it has to be a prank but ‘no one’ notices” from The Yes Men? That was my 10 second impression.

  8. Whilst I realise this is a joke, the joke could work the other way: Want to raise a child in the west? Fund guns in 3rd world conflict zones in order to kill enough poor children that it offsets your own offspring.

  9. Sad thing is that war is the perfect market in the eyes of capitalism, as anything sold gets destroyed or in some other way used up. End result is that there is always a sellers market.

  10. Am I the only one who’s intrigued by the asterisk in “for every* life lost”? I wonder what was in the fine print.

  11. Well played, Life Neutral.  I’m looking forward to more of your “activities” in the future.  If you ever hooked up with The Yes Men, it could really get nuts!

  12. “Yesterday 1000s of people heard for the first time about the world’s biggest arms fair, DSEi, and what goes on there.”

    That’s just conjecture, you’ve really no idea how many people heard about it for the 1st time. Seems you’re trying to make good PR out of a failed hoax. Failing still.

    1. Karen, try checking out the listening figures for BBC World Service World Update (And the global reach). Then, add the listeners of BBC London drivetime. Next, add (admittedly an estimate) 100s of tweets going out to 1000s of people. Next, add the readership of Boing Boing, and other sites. Then add the 1000s of people on our mail list. Then add a few hundred people walking past the billboards.Of course you’re right you can’t come up with an exact figure. Even the lowest guesstimate, taking into account people who already knew about the fair, would be in the 1000s. Marketing companies make these kind of educated guesses all the time. What makes you think we can’t?You’re right, we are making good PR. In some ways, that’s exactly what we do, and we’re not too shabby at it. Not perfect, but not bad for a rag-tag bunch of anarchitects. Difficult to see where the fail is, but perhaps you can explain further.

    2. Uh, did you ever consider how many daily hits BB gets?

      If you did you would realise that the estimate is not conjecture. Try employing logic in your comments before proudly declaring who has failed. You’ll appear less foolish that way.

  13. It’s unfortunate that progressives, being highly correlated with those holding atheistic, humanist, and feminist views see the limiting of offspring as a positive result of a developed society.  Since science is the closest thing to worship that atheism allows, and since science (with its unremovable sidekick technology) is the only thing that can both maximize the productive agricultural use of this planet, and allow us to colonize other planets, and mine less than planet resources in space such as asteroids and comets to make human habitable structures in the next frontier; and since liberals are apparently unwilling to believe that these advances will happen and will solve the current issues affecting our planet, as shown by there self limiting anti-reproductive tendencies, liberalism therefore admits itself as nothing more than negativity and self doubt.  If you can’t even believe in your chosen viewpoints, beliefs; and their methods, to provide an essentially unlimited set of resources and possibilities in what is, from our understanding an infinite universe at our present time, then why should anyone else?

    In short, quit being so fucking negative, make some babies, and trust that space elevators, biospheres, and other scientific advances will solve all these problems we worry so much about today.  Why are progressives only willing to heed the negative teachings of sci-fi, and scientific theory, never realizing how hopeful things are if you only look at it from a different angle?

    And it would be nice if you realized that a belief in the teachings and miracles of Jesus didn’t make a person a drone to the obviously anti-Christish republican/tea party hate speech, but I’m not expecting miracles here.

    1. In short, quit being so fucking negative, make some babies, and trust that space elevators, biospheres, and other scientific advances will solve all these problems we worry so much about today.

      I don’t find that much more realistic than trusting that angels will make us some extra dimensions to live in. And then destroy.

    2. Because people who believe in reason and science realize that we have no great sky daddy that will save us if we fuck up, that species go extinct all the time and there is nothing special about us in that regard, and that not dealing with the very real threats that face us both in the universe at large and our internal cognitive deficiencies can render all of our hopes as no more than the lost dreams of another dead species. Having hope does not mean ignoring reality.

  14. I don’t see any harm in asking people at a gun show to donate to children.  It’s not like people who are pro-gun are anti-child…  which is where this all breaks down.  That’s the implication.  By tying the two together so overtly, Life Neutral is basically accusing gun owners of killing children.  That’s not a good way to get someone feeling generous.

    Even if you believe that in your heart of hearts, there’s nothing to be gained by telling anyone about it, and there’s plenty to be lost.

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