Skip to Main Content

Suddenly, when the country caught fire, people realised what the government has not: that climate change is killing us.

But climate deaths didn’t start in 2019. Medical officers have been warning of a health emergency as temperatures rise for years, and for at least a decade Australians have been dying from the plagues of climate change – from heat, flood, disease, smoke. And now, pandemic.

In this detailed, considered, compassionate book, Paddy Manning paints us the big picture. He revisits some headline events which might have faded in our memory – the Brisbane Floods of 2011; Melbourne’s thunderstorm asthma fatalities of 2016 – and brings to our attention less well-publicised killers: the soil-borne diseases that amplify after a flood; the fact that heat itself has killed more people than all other catastrophes put together. In each case, he has interviewed scientists to explore the link to climate change and asks how – indeed, whether – we can better prepare ourselves in the future.

Most importantly, Manning has spoken to survivors and the families of victims, creating a monument to those we have already lost. Donna Rice and her 13-year-old son Jordan. Alison Tenner. The Buchanan family. These are stories of humans at their most vulnerable, and also often at their best. In extremis, people often act to save their loved ones above themselves. As Body Count shows, we are now all in extremis, and it is time to act.

Respected journalist Paddy Manning tells these stories of tragedy and loss, heroism and resilience, in a book that is both monument and warning.

Longlisted for the 2020 Walkley Book Award.

'Body Count puts a human face on the lives impacted by our worsening climate crisis. Most apparent from Body Count is the sense of community throughout the book. These stories of heroism and hope provide a silver lining...' FIVE STARS, Good Reading

'Manning looks to past natural disasters that inform present conditions. His journalistic training allows for nuance; there's space set aside to discuss climate change sceptics and deniers even as his central these is unequivocal: that "as the planet hots up, the mercury's grim harvest will threaten more of us". Dedicated to the loved ones of those who've lost their lives in the stories told within, Body Count is at its heart an urgent and passionate rallying call.' The Saturday Paper

‘A climate emergency tour de force.' Dr Bob Brown

'True stories of heroism and unimaginable loss...Body Count is a brilliant exposition of why we must deal with the climate problem now.' Ross Garnaut

'Climate change kills. … Through the accounts of people who have lost so much, Paddy Manning drives home the deeply personal impact of climate change. Governments continue to ignore the impact on climate change on human health at OUR peril. The future of our planet and our future generations depends on everyone playing their part, today.' Professor Kerryn Phelps

'A stunningly powerful call to political leaders everywhere who hear the warnings of the devastating impacts of climate change on health but fail to act.' Dr Helen Haines, independent member for Indi

‘Moving stories of heroic courage and tragic loss. A pause to reflect on the lives lost and how urgently we need change.’ David Pocock, former Wallabies captain

Paddy Manning is contributing editor (politics) for The Monthly magazine and author of four books including Inside the Greens, Born to Rule: The Unauthorised Biography of Malcolm Turnbull. Over a 20-year career in journalism he has worked for the ABC, Crikey, SMH/The AgeAFRThe Australian and was founding editor and publisher of Ethical Investor magazine. 

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Australia (August 5, 2020)
  • Length: 352 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781925456752

Browse Related Books

‘A climate emergency tour de force.'

– Dr Bob Brown

'True stories of heroism and unimaginable loss... Body Count is a brilliant exposition of why we must deal with the climate problem now.'

– Ross Garnaut

'Climate change kills. … Through the accounts of people who have lost so much, Paddy Manning drives home the deeply personal impact of climate change. Governments continue to ignore the impact on climate change on human health at OUR peril. The future of our planet and our future generations depends on everyone playing their part, today.'

– Professor Kerryn Phelps

'A stunningly powerful call to political leaders everywhere who hear the warnings of the devastating impacts of climate change on health but fail to act.'

– Dr Helen Haines, independent member for Indi

‘Moving stories of heroic courage and tragic loss. A pause to reflect on the lives lost and how urgently we need change.’ 

– David Pocock, former Wallabies captain

‘This important book is an insight into the consequences of ignoring the warnings of climate and public health scientists. Featuring journalistic precision, and a storyteller’s gift, Body Count is not just a compelling read, but a timely reminder it is our lives that are at stake.’ 

– Fiona Armstrong, founder and executive director of the Climate and Health Alliance; Honorary Associate, Department of Public Health, La Trobe University

Body Count should be on everyone’s reading list. It cuts through the swathe of propaganda that climate change is not something to worry about. Spoiler alert: it is. Australia’s climate wars have moved well beyond Parliament House, placing all Australians on the front line. It is precisely what all Australians need to read.’ 

– Dr Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of NSW

‘This anthology of human stories about health and global warming makes clear that climate change is not an abstract, future issue. Our climate has already changed, and it’s claiming the lives of people we know. We must act urgently. There is no time to waste.’ 

– Tony Capon, director of the Monash Sustainable Development Institute and chair in Planetary Health in the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University

'Body Count puts a human face on the lives impacted by our worsening climate crisis. Most apparent from Body Count is the sense of community throughout the book. These stories of heroism and hope provide a silver lining...' FIVE STARS.

– Good Reading

'Manning looks to past natural disasters that inform present conditions. His journalistic training allows for nuance; there's space set aside to discuss climate change sceptics and deniers even as his central these is unequivocal: that "as the planet hots up, the mercury's grim harvest will threaten more of us". Dedicated to the loved ones of those who've lost their lives in the stories told within, Body Count is at its heart an urgent and passionate rallying call.'

– The Saturday Paper