Earth Matters: A drive around London shows effects of climate change

World's 1st ultra low emission zone in London

You don't have to go somewhere exotic to run into the effects of climate change. A drive around London will do it. Because of environmental concerns, that drive has gotten a lot more expensive for some lately. This month London introduced the world's first ultra low emission zone to fight the city's toxic levels of air pollution. It is one of the most radical anti-pollution policies on the planet. 

Approach central London, and you'll see signs announcing a charge just for bringing your car into town – about $15. If you've got an older car, especially if it's a diesel, the overhead cameras will spot you and, under the new Ultra Low Emissions Zone, that'll be another $16.50. 

That's over $30 just to drive into town. Why? Ask the mayor.

"If you are going to drive with a more polluting vehicle, you have to pay for that," Sadiq Khan said.

The point of Khan's charges is to reduce pollution by reducing the number of vehicles that produce it, reports CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips. 

At the British Met Office, the country's weather forecasting service, they track the rise of carbon dioxide, the most prevalent greenhouse gas. Much of the data comes from the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, which has been measuring CO2 since 1958. 

Scientists like Richard Betts count the gas in the air around us in parts per million.

"So it's almost down at 300 at the beginning, way past 400 now, so a 30 percent increase in CO2 over that half century or more," Betts said.

"And why is that significant?" Phillips asked.

"It's significant because it's causing the world to warm," Betts said.

In just that period, average global temperatures have risen about one degree Fahrenheit – a rise scientists connect to more severe weather, increased flooding and drought. 

"There are still skeptics out there, somehow, who either doubt the source of the extra CO2 in the atmosphere and where it's coming from, or the effect that it's having," Phillips noted.

"Even the skeptics that are disputing that it is a problem will accept that the science is sound and the warming is caused by increased greenhouse gases," Betts said.

Over the fast few years, we've been going to some of the Earth's extreme environments where the signs of climate change tend to show up first: We've found that carbon that's been frozen in the Arctic permafrost is being released as it thaws. We've found Antarctic islands where penguin colonies used to thrive that are now almost empty because the sea ice is gone. We've seen the coral bleaching due to warming on Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

The Met Office used to simply produce daily weather forecasts. Now it can also look further into the future.

"So we can't predict individual weather days more than a few days ahead. But we can make predictions of the annual average temperature and the seasonal temperature and rainfall … and we are predicting a warmer world, changing rainfall patterns and rising sea levels," Betts said.

"The trend is up," Phillips said.

"Yep," Betts said, nodding.

If London is any example, the way we move around and the way we live our lives will change, too.