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CO2 emissions: All bets are on

Apparently, you can bet on just about anything at Paddy Power, said to be Ireland's largest bookmaker. Even climate change.

In addition to the usual sports bets, the bookmaker also has betting categories for politics, TV specials and the weather. In the "current affairs" category, you can bet on who is going to take over Cadbury's, who will be the next CEO of Easyjet and who will be the next pope.  (There are several in the pope category, including "when will the pope visit Ireland?")

Then there are the "novelty" categories, which include bets on Christmas speeches (What will the Queen say first?) and literary awards. You can bet on how many polar bears the World Wildlife Institute is going to conclude are still alive on Dec. 31, 2011.

Now, you can also bet on who will have the highest carbon dioxide emissions -- the U.S. or the European Union -- when the U.S. Department of Energy's Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center issues its next report to the United Nations.  Not surprisingly, the US is the favorite at 1/3, with the EU at 2/1.

Just how high will the world's emissions be by then? The last report in 2006 measured CO2 levels at 28.4 billion metric tonnes, and Paddy Power's odds predict that at the time of the next report the figure will be over 34 billion tonnes, at odds of 7/4.

In a press release, the bookmaker company noted, "The politicians may be talking, but punters don't seem to have much faith.  They're betting on things getting a lot worse before they get better."