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Betting on a dead certainty

Author : Paul Gay

25 May 2010

Isn’t it strange how certain elements of society attempt to gain from the misfortunes of others? One particular group of unfortunates is the wildlife of the Mexican Gulf which has been under constant threat for the past month from the oil pollution disaster which followed the explosion and sinking of the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon.

Cleaning oil from the Gulf's shoreline
Cleaning oil from the Gulf's shoreline

The pollution is so serious that there is a reasonable chance that many animals will die and there is a distinct possibility that some species native to the Gulf will reach extinction. The already critically endangered Kemp's Ridley Turtle is a species in particular danger as it migrates to the Gulf of Mexico at this time every year. On its arrival this season, the turtles will be faced by a lethal welcoming committee created by several million barrels of oil leaked from the damaged oil well.

One of the first to cash in on this environmental disaster is the betting outfit Paddy Power which is taking bets on the first species to become extinct as a direct result of the oil spill. The current odds-on favourite is the Kemp's Ridley Turtle but the Bluefin Tuna, the Leatherback Sea Turtle and the Brown Pelican are all in the frame.

In an attempt to justify this unsavoury money making venture, a Paddy Power spokesman suggested: “We hope this betting will highlight the environmental catastrophe unfolding right now as a result of the BP oil spill. It’s a sure bet we’ll lose some marine species, the only question is which ones.”

There are probably one or two hedge fund managers who will be having ideas of an alternative oil disaster bet and will maybe take a quick punt on the spiralling price of BP shares and when they’ll bottom out.

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