Global heating sparks Aust chaos: expert

Sonia Kohlbacher
An expert warns the slightest increase in temperatures will cause catastrophes on Australia's shores

Last year was the world's second hottest on record but even the slightest increase in temperatures will cause frightening catastrophes on Australia's shores, an expert has warned.

The World Meteorological Organisation found 2019 was only 1.1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels, but is getting ever closer to a point where the face of the earth will drastically change.

It's struck fear in Ken Thompson, a former Fire and Rescue NSW, who says Australia is entering a different kind of normal that equates to devastating events like bushfires sweeping the nation.

Cutting emissions to try to curb how badly disasters play out in future is the only logical step, and he wants the federal government to start listening to scientists who have issued warnings for decades.

"To be quite honest, I've gone through periods of depression, because what I'm seeing is just so frightening," he said.

"And I've got to say, my depression is not so much related to the fires, my depression is probably more related to the politics, particularly the Australian government."

Photographs of pristine beaches turned into evacuation sites, footage from the fire front and media reports of Melbourne residents breathing in the worst air in the world have gone viral across the globe.

Mr Thompson says it's been a wake-up call to many about the consequences of climate change.

"I think in this we've reached the tipping point," he said.

"We're either coming up to it or we've reached it or we're actually beyond it, but governments are beginning to sit up and take notice."

Much focus has been put on the Great Barrier Reef in recent years, where dive operator Tony Fontes has seen global heating play out.

It has wedged the tourism industry, with business owners desperate for government action to save a reef that contributes $6.5 billion a year to the national economy, without killing off their own business.

"We had our underwater bushfires years ago, we've seen this all happen," he said.