Scientific news and articles
Male pipefish decide who survives
Saturn's rings a chaotic clutter
Researchers develop desal on a chip
Final missing piece of insulin lock found
Volcano helped dinosaurs gain upper hand
Bouncing current could speed up charge
Bleaching leaves Lord Howe reef 'on knife edge'
Floor price for booze good as taxes, study
Concerns over varroa mite resistance
Microbes breathe life into oxygen theory
Pre-history rewritten as new human discovered
Dung beetle claims strongest insect title
Scientists unearth Australian tyrannosaur
Splitting cyclone reveals Neptune's nature
Junk food can become addictive: study
Bumblebees have superfast colour vision
Black holes may be 'missing dark matter'
Magnets can manipulate morality: study
Sun helps bats find home in the dark
LHC to begin 'Big Bang' project
Trial of bionic eye within three years
Easter eggs may be good for your heart
Mega-flood triggered European ice age
Finch genome music to researcher's ears
Copenhagen sets Earth for more warming
Carbon-curbing pledges under the Copenhagen Accord are likely to see Earth warm 3C or more, compared to the deal's target of 2C, German scientists report.

In an analysis published by the journal Nature, researchers at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) near Berlin believe the promises fell very short of the headline-making mark.

"It's amazing how unambitious these pledges are," they write.

Born in the final hours of the UN climate summit last December, the Accord sets a goal of limiting warming to 2C.

But it does not set a date for achieving this, nor stepping-stone targets for getting there, and the roster of pledges it sets up, gathering rich and poor countries alike, is voluntary.
'Hoping to stop'

If the promises are carried out, global yearly emissions of greenhouse gases will increase by 10% to 20% above current levels, reaching the equivalent of 47.9 to 53.6 gigatonnes (billion tonnes) of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent by 2020, says the study.

"This would result in a greater than 50% chance that warming will exceed 3C by 2100," according to the researchers.

"To be on track for meeting the 'below 2C' climate target, global emissions of no more than 40 to 44 gigatonnes (billion tonnes) of CO2 equivalent have to be achieved by 2020."

PIK researcher Malte Meinshausen says, "Forty-eight gigatonnes of CO2 emissions is not on track to meet the 2C goal - it is like racing towards a cliff and hoping to stop just before it."
Kyoto loopholes

The Copenhagen Accord remains politically contested.

In their analysis, the PIK researchers say a big loophole was surplus allowances under the Kyoto Protocol, whose current provisions expire at the end of 2012.

These surplus allowances can be used by industrialised countries who undershoot their Kyoto targets for emissions reductions.

The United States, the world's number two carbon emitter, is not party to Kyoto, nor is China, the world's number one, because it is a developing country and does not have binding emissions targets.

The authors say that the Kyoto targets were weak, which means many countries will be banking their surpluses for use later - a tally that they estimate at a huge 11 gigatonnes.

Previous studies have suggested that warming of 3C or more would have a huge effect on Earth's climate system, possibly leading to more frequent drought, flood, storms and rising seas affecting millions of people.

Since pre-industrial times, Earth's mean surface temperature has risen by about 0.8C.

New Zealand's GM livestock given reprieve
Nano diamonds to become a doctor's best friend
Ocean saltiness reaching new limits
Volcanic ash unlikely to cool planet
Silk forms 'intimate' brain connection
New drug improves hepatitis C outcome
Microbial life discovered in asphalt lake
Green tea may strengthen your teeth
Head-ramming dino had 'gears' in skull
Clever crows show innovative behaviour
Research casts doubt on brain training
Multiple unknowns cloud volcano's impact
Staying fit helps men 'do it longer'
Copenhagen sets Earth for more warming
Solar spacecraft begins study of our Sun
Mixed messages on gene patenting
Gene study finds multiple species of orca
Dreaming boosts learning and creativity
Scientists measure massive ocean current
Genes influence smoking addiction: study
Nanowires create volts of electricity
Fisheries urged to diversify their 'take'
Chimps confront death in human-like ways
Chile to host world's biggest telescope
Trapping light to improve solar cells
Experts debate use of HPV test
Japan to launch 'space yacht'
Sea ice loss key to Arctic warming, study
Australian lasers to track orbiting junk
Thawing nitrous oxide overlooked: study
'Sound bullets' could blast cancer
Lasers could spark clean nuclear power
Seaweed slows black sea snakes down
Asteroid impacts cause crustal crisis: study
Flu jab link to increased H1N1 risk: study
Intestinal germ helps sushi digestion
Researcher closes in on freezing conundrum
Test identifies smokers at highest risk
New species of human found in 'death trap'
'Planet of love' still hot and active
Stress takes its toll on tiny lizard
Scientists record world's tiniest nudge
Cell signals shed light on breast cancer
Parasites behind seasonal allergies
Study finds maternal deaths falling
Pluto's family set to grow tenfold
Diet cuts Alzheimer's risk: study
Whales get physical when seas get rough
'Tweets' could warn of future epidemics
Quolls force-fed toads in survival fight
Researchers question use of silver dressings
Scientists create truly random numbers
Visit Statistics