At home with Paddy Manning

Paddy Manning is the author of four books, including 2020's Body Count: How Climate Change is Killing Us. In this interview, Paddy explores what may be one of our biggest questions, how do we write about the climate crisis? He also explains how he went about interviewing the family members of Australia's first climate casualties.

Paddy is contributing editor for The Monthly. Over a twenty-year career in journalism he has worked for the ABC, Crikey, SMH/The AgeAFR, and The Australian, and he was the founding editor and publisher of Ethical Investor magazine.

At home with Paddy Manning


ASTRID: Paddy Manning is the author of four books, including 2020's Body Count: How Climate Change is Killing Us. In this interview, Paddy explores what may be one of our biggest questions, how do we write about the climate crisis. He also explains how he went about interviewing the family members of Australia's first climate casualties.

Welcome to The Garret at Home, Paddy.

PADDY: Thank you, Astrid. Thank you for having me.

ASTRID: I am very excited to talk to you today. I have this question in my mind and I've asked a lot of writers about it, and that is how do you write about the environment and how do you write about the climate crisis? And it's such a big topic and people have been trying for decades, and when I saw the cover of your new book, Body Count: How Climate Change is Killing Us, I thought, ‘Well, this guy might have the answers’. So, Paddy, can you introduce us to Body Count?

PADDY: Yeah. Thank you. Yes. And I certainly don't have the answers, but I've had a crack. What I did with Body Count is interview Australians who've lost family or loved ones to extreme weather events or other diseases, other causes linked to global warming, and I wanted to ask them about climate change. So, I wanted to do that for a couple of reasons. It seemed to me that the climate debate has sort of got bogged down in parts per million of CO2, and temperature degrees rises over a certain period, and emissions reduction percentage targets, and impact on our electricity bills, and a lot of these facts have got lost in a kind of blur of policy waffle and I think ordinary people have tuned out. And, also, I think that's not what climate change is really about. Climate change is really about the human impact.

That's the story I wanted to try and tell in this book, the impact on Australians here and now. So, climate change is not about some future generations are going to have to deal with this, and it's not about the natural environment and just the animals that are going extinct. It's about us and our health and the health of our loved ones in our communities right now. And, in fact, this is not a new thing. That was one of the interesting questions that I had to kind of work out with this book is when did the body count start? If you're going to say there is a climate death toll, and it's rising in Australia already, you've got to kind of come to a landing on when maybe roughly it started. And I sort of did that. So, I sort of started around with the Canberra bushfires and sort of 2003, the turn of the century, there's sort of off the record if you talk to scientists, they'll say, ‘Yeah, that's sort of when things started to really get... Extreme weather events, getting more severe, more frequent, and more deadly’.

ASTRID: I don't normally ask writers about their covers because I know that writers don't design their own covers. But on the front of this cover, this is not a book that is green or blue, or with a melting ice cap and a polar bear or something on the front, but you have the word killing on the front and you have a picture of a man and his dog sitting next to a beach, watching a fire. And I looked at that for a long time, Paddy, because I live in a pretty permanent state of eco anxiety and terror about what is already happening, not what might happen, but what is already happening. And I just really appreciate the fact that you have gone in a whole different tack, and I hope people take notice and not just read the book but read the book and then consider what it means for themselves, for their loved ones, and their friends, and where they live, and what they're going to do. So, were there any discussions with your publisher about the title. I'm genuinely interested, how do you put killing in a title?

PADDY: So, it's an interesting question. There were lots of discussions about the cover. There was not much discussion about the title, right until the end when the pandemic raised this question of whether it was smart or in good taste even to come out with a book called Body Count while people were dying from COVID. So, on the cover, I was imagining something like... There were some iconic images taken during the Black Summer bushfires of 2019-20, obviously. There was the famous one Dean Sewell took with embers falling, ember attack on a firefighter. There was the famous image of the kangaroo hopping past the burning house. But I was imagining that the cover would have something like a siren flashing or something that screamed climate emergency. And in the end, the choice of that image, which is a shot of a little township by the sea, Melua Bay, on the New South Wales south coast. It was taken by Herald Sun photographer, Alex Coppel. He was there on holidays and then torn between wanting to look after his family and protect the holiday shack that they were staying in and wanting to go down to the beach where thousands of people and all of their pets were huddling, watching as these fires encircled them and, of course, he ended up doing a bit of both. His family were okay, and their house didn't burn down, but he took some amazing shots.

And that shot, in particular, he talked about in an article. There was an article that was interviewing some of the photographers about the work they did over the Black Summer. And he talked about it. You're right. It's got a guy with a cap, a baseball cap, sitting on a beach, looking, with his dog next to him, just watching the fire consume the headland and, funnily enough, there's a perfect wave breaking in front of him, just an absolutely cracking little barrel. And Alex said in his interview that what struck him about that photo was how calm the guy was just sitting there watching, and you could almost imagine that he was looking at the wave, not at the disaster that was unfolding.

Although I didn't choose the picture, I thought it was a very beautiful picture and a painterly picture, which really did tell a story, and it captured that sense that, actually, we are watching. We are sitting back and watching this climate disaster unfold. We're not panicking to the degree that we should be. I think the guy with the baseball cap, in my mind, he's ScoMo. He's our prime minister. He looks, from behind, a little bit like he could be, with his baseball cap, and he's kind of just sitting this position.

So, I love the picture. And I think that it says a lot about where we are right now in the middle of this climate emergency. On the title, Body Count is a provocative title, but it has been the title in my mind for three years, and I didn't want to move it. I think because partly when I was doing the interviews with the people that I approached, I told them that I was working on a book called Body Count about how climate change was killing us. And I felt like there was an ethical obligation on me, in a way, to persevere with that title because that's what I told them I was going to do when I was asking them to share with me their stories of their loss and their own personal tragedy. And it was a good title because it's a strong title.

It tells you exactly what the book's about. It doesn't pull any punches. And, ultimately, this book got delayed by the pandemic. So, it was meant to come out... I started writing it early to middle 2019, and then the bushfire season, and we were already in the middle of drought, okay, but then the bushfire season really turned terrible, and it felt like this book was incredibly timely. I mean, I do genuinely believe that that Black Summer was a wake-up call for a lot of Australians about the climate change killing us here and now. It was very in our face and it went around the world, of course, this same realisation. And it's gone back, just like the smoke circling the planet, the same thing is now happening in California, exactly as what happened to us, only 9 months previous. But when the book got delayed after the first wave of the pandemic because not only was it not clear how the pandemic was going to unfold, it was also a blow to the industry. Writers festivals getting cancelled, all kinds of schedules being put out, workers, everyone being furloughed, sent home, et cetera.

So, the book got delayed for three months. In that three months, I spent a good chunk of that researching the connections between global warming and the pandemic. It turns out there are a lot, and I think they are too, climate change and the rise of zoonoses, emerging infectious diseases, over the last few decades are very closely related. And I felt that COVID is in some ways part of the Body Count. I mean, even just the other day, The Saturday Paper published leaked tapes from Victoria's chief health officer, Brett Sutton, talking about how we're going to see more years like this one. We've got a lot of this ahead of us.

I really did feel that the title was the right title, notwithstanding the pandemic, and that we should stick with it. It's hard to get attention at the moment to anything that's not COVID but as the bushfire season kind of gets swings... We've got our first total fire ban today, or yesterday I think it was in New South Wales, and we're going to have another hot summer, and I think that people will once again be thinking about... We've seen the Arctic burn, we're watching in California. I think people will again be thinking about climate change soon enough. So, we felt that the title was a strong one, and the most important thing is it's clear. The book is an attempt to get outside the climate policy debate, outside the normal confines of it, and outside the sort of, not the Canberra bubble, but the climate bubble, if you like, and talk to ordinary Australians by telling true stories of how ordinary Australians have... It's the true stories of ordinary Australians, who've suffered the most from climate change already.

ASTRID: And that is exactly why I wanted to talk to you, Paddy. The science has been clear for decades. The policy has been all over the shop for decades, but the science has been understood in Canberra for a long time. It's just that it has been not acted upon. When I opened Body Count and started reading, the first thing I obviously saw was your dedication. And your dedication is to those Australians who are the first body count in terms of the climate crisis in Australia. That was both beautiful and shocking to me as a reader to see. Obviously, you don't open a book and expect that kind of dedication, and it set the tone for the rest of the book and quite an honourable tone. And then we get to your table of contents, and I just want to read this, Fire, Heat, Flood, Disease, Breakdown, Hope, Epilogue, The Age of Pandemics.

I read that and immediately I thought, Paddy, ‘Oh god, this is almost as depressing as The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells’, which I really enjoyed reading. It's a book that has been an international bestseller but has also received a lot of criticism, and some of that criticism was because it was considered too scary, too harsh, saying terrifying things that we shouldn't tell the public.

And when I saw your table of contents and then, of course, read the book, I thought, ‘Maybe this is what we need to be reading as a public’. We need the scary stuff. We need the straight to the point, this event killed this number of people, the likelihood of this being caused by climate change is this. That direct link, so nobody can escape the fact that the climate crisis is here and it doesn't really matter what is happening in Canberra or anywhere else in the planet. It's here in our daily lives. And I guess there is no question in that, Paddy, but I just wanted to share with you my response as a reader and where I went because I am genuinely interested in why the science has been clear for decades, and we haven't acted as a species. We haven't acted as a planet. We haven't got our shit together.

PADDY: A couple of things, first of all, I don't think there's any point in pulling any punches about it. You should tell the truth and whether it's Uninhabitable Earth or Body Count

ASTRID: I would suggest both for everyone listening.

PADDY: Yeah. People need to face reality. It serves some very powerful vested interests for us to kind of decide that it's all too hard or it's all too scary, and ignorance is bliss, and we'll just go on the way we're going, hoping that when the shit hits the fan, Canberra will do something. But I think a couple of things about it, the science has been clear in the broad. But scientists are working very hard to get better and get more regional and get more precise, both in their forecasting and in their attribution of extreme weather events to warming, to work out... So, there's a lot of science that remains to be done.

And each of the events that I ended up describing in this book, the problem is that when the event happens and there's loss of life, there's tragedy, people generally don't want to talk about climate change at that point, that somehow it's seen as political or it's opportunistic, and so the conversation isn't had. And the other thing is, at that point in time, the science isn't in. The science isn't in to say, ‘Yes, that Queensland flood was with a certain degree of confidence made more likely or most severe by global warming to date’, or ‘Yes, the Black Saturday fires, we can say with scientific accuracy caused by climate change to a certain degree’. None of that science is in. And then the problem is that nobody ever goes back. When the science comes in years later, nobody ever goes back and has a conversation with the survivors or the victim's families and say, ‘Actually, you know what? That event that took your loved one really was caused by global warming’. There might be an article that appears in a peer-reviewed journal, scientific article.

It may or may not get picked up on the inside pages of a newspaper, but that conversation generally won't happen. I thought it was important to join the dots between the tragedy and then the science which comes in subsequently, and then the victims and get their stories and thoughts about it. That's what I've tried to do and pull all those things together in this book. And the thing is that I haven't tried to beat it up or down or iron out any of the wrinkles. Sometimes the level of confidence is high and sometimes the level of confidence is low when I talk to scientists. I've tried to present relevant events with some degree of rigour and research, and I've certainly had scientists read through it to make sure that, okay, I haven't got anything wrong. I'm just a journo.

But what I was looking for was not proof, but relevance. I wasn't trying to say, ‘Yes, climate change killed that person, 100 per cent, and here's the peer-reviewed article which says so’. What I was trying to say is that, look, there's good evidence to suggest that the intensity or frequency of these events is linked to warming and, by the way, we've got a hell of a lot more warming ahead of us so this is the risks that we're running, and yet there are levels of doubt. So, there's more confidence about the impact of global warming, predictably, and it's common sense, on heat waves, there's a very high degree of confidence. There's a lesser degree of confidence that any particular bushfire is caused by warming. It could be caused by a range of factors, including fuel management, and a bunch of other things, how well built is the structure that we're trying to defend, how much warning was given.

There's a whole bunch of factors that go to causing loss of life. And similarly with flood, cyclones, question mark. The lightest evidence suggests, according to my lay understanding, that cyclones are going to get less frequent, but they're going to get more intense and they're going to spread over a wider geographic area in Australia. So, there's plenty of sort of flashing amber lights, but there's still plenty of doubt, and I've put all that in the book. Inevitably, I've simplified it, but I haven't tried to paper over any doubt, whatsoever. What I hope I've done is that I've told stories in a way that an ordinary person can read it and understand, shit, that really is possible. Actually, it makes sense, and it's kind of intuitively obvious. And, anyway, I hope that it resonates on that level, that it's convincing enough that people go, ‘Yes, this is a problem’.

ASTRID: That is my hope too, for this work, Paddy. It's that convincing and changing how we all think on a day-to-day level. Now, Paddy, you are a journalist. You have been writing for many years. This is certainly not your first book, and you respect the process of research. You've done the research. You have talked to the scientist. You've had your work checked by the scientists. But I'm interested in how you did the personal research. So, you have gone and attempted to identify Australians whose death can be linked to climate change, and you have approached their families and their friends, and had that conversation. And I'm interested in how you did that, and the response that you got, and also exploring that kind of personal ethical conundrum of how do you call someone up and say, ‘Can I speak to you? I think your mum died possibly because of climate change’. And these are the conversations I do believe we need to have, but how on earth do you do it?

PADDY: Well, the first one was hearing from a doctor from Western Sydney, Kim Leu speak at a Stop Adani rally. She's a member of a group called Doctors for the Environment in Australia. And she was talking at the rally about... She's worked in Western Sydney. Western Sydney is highly vulnerable to both bad air quality because its kind of geographical basin but there's an inversion layer, it often traps pollutants but also it's hotter, and expected warming is going to impact... It's going to hit the western suburbs harder. By the sea, with your sea breezes and everything, you're probably doing a bit better. But in Sydney's western suburbs... She then told the story, without naming her patient, this guy, Chuck McLeod, she'd known for 14 years. She'd been seeing him as a GP and he was just over 80, and he was living alone in a little retirement unit out in Sydney's North West.

And it was a heatwave day and he went up to Bunnings on his mobility scooter, and that was against doctor's orders. He shouldn't have been outside that day at all. He knew it, but he was a cantankerous old bugger and he decided he needed something up at Bunnings. So, off he went, and it's a 20 minute round trip up to the shopping centre on his mobility scooter, and he's going along next to some pretty busy roads with trucks on them. So, he's inhaling a lot of pretty bad air and it's hot. And he comes back home, then he has a glass of beer, and decides he's got to go back up and get something else, and he goes up to Coles. By now, it's the middle of the day. It's really hot. And he comes home and keels over and dies in his unit.

And, through Kim, I approached Kim, she told me that story and she asked Chuck's daughter, Evelyn, whether she would talk to me. She said she would. This is an example of the virtue of the title. She knew what I was doing. I told her what I was doing. She said, ‘Look, I'm not a climate activist’. Oh, sorry, I forgot to mention. One of the key points that Kim Leu made in her speech was that for the first time she'd written heat on the death certificate because normally what happens is a heat death will be recorded as a heart attack, or a stroke, or some other comorbidities, and Chuck had those as well. But for the first time, Kim honestly believed that heat was a contributing factor to her patient's death that day. And I spoke to the daughter and she told me all about it, exactly the lead-up. He'd previously had a stroke. He'd had a heart bypass. He was diabetic. He was old. He was frail.

And she said, ‘Look, I'm not a climate activist. I just want to get the word out. You got to look after your old folks in the heat’. She agreed to talk to me, and she doesn't have an opinion about whether it's linked to climate change or not, but she's perfectly well aware that Kim Loo believes that it's linked to climate change and she's not sort of gainsaying it. She's just wanting to raise awareness of the risk. I find that people if you are straight with them and you are crystal clear about what you're doing, then they'll say yes or no, I'll talk to you or not. And they might not agree with you, and I've interviewed plenty of people in this book who say, ‘I don't believe global warming contributed to the death of my loved one’, because I've put all that in there.

Some of them aren't convinced at all, or they're completely in denial about climate change. So, it's not like a uniform message that I got. But all of the people that I interviewed, and this is where I felt sort of honoured and, well, privileged I guess, for them to be sharing their story with me, and this is why I wanted to dedicate the book to these people, was because they were happy enough if I was going to treat them fairly and give their opinions room, and I did undertake that I would show them their contribution in draught, and they would have a chance to read back over and think over their comments that they'd made, and make sure that I'd got their details of the tragedy correct and all of that, and I did all that.

And I thought in my mind, ‘Ah, some people are going to pull out. Some people, when they see it written down, their tragedy written down on paper, they're going to baulk’. None of them did. Literally, none of them. I honestly do believe it's a privilege. I was privileged to talk with some really inspiring people and hear their thoughts, but also how the death of their loved one impacted them and how they died and, yeah. So, there's 15. I was determined to try and tell fewer stories well, rather than try and tell hundreds of stories. And I hope that I did tell the stories well.

And the thing that I took out of it, apart from anything else, was the sort of love and courage that these people showed when the chips were down, when they were struck by disaster, and they had felt abandoned by the government. They hadn't had enough warning or there wasn't enough rescue gear there at the time and, actually, people did look after each other. And so, despite the grim title, I felt like in the end the book was quite inspiring. Certainly, the people that I interviewed were quite inspiring.

ASTRID: I would agree with you. I had many thoughts reading Body Count, Paddy. One of the stories that sticks with me is the woman in her car with her two children, calling for help. And she was dismissed because, maybe, she's a silly woman and shouldn't have driven there in the first place, and by the time help arrived, it was too late because no one took the risk of flood in such a quick time period seriously. And this is a reminder to all of us that that could be any of us at any point.

PADDY: That's Donna and Jordan Rice who died in the Queensland floods at Toowoomba in 2011, and that is an absolutely tragic story. And I interviewed the husband surviving, and he is an example of someone who doesn't believe the flood was linked to climate change, although there is scientific evidence that it was, but he blames... And this just shows the nuances of each of these stories are different. He blames the incompetence of the police and the way they handled that distress call, that 000 caller... Sorry, the officer who took that 000 call, and in fact, he subsequently sued the Queensland government successfully, actually. So, that's who he blames, and actually, he has other theories about the contribution that cloud seeding had made and chem trials and all sorts of things. He doesn't believe in climate change at all. But he did talk to me.

He was happy to talk to me and I thought his story... Yeah, that story is tragic. No climate scientist has ever gone and briefed him. No one's ever told him really what contribution climate change would have made to that disaster that day. So why would we expect that he would know? The media has been sowing confusion on it for a decade, particularly in Queensland where you've got absolute dominance of the Murdoch media. So, why would you expect that he would suddenly become au fait with the climate science which suggest that the intensity of that flooding wasn't Cyclone Yasi, I'm pretty sure it was Yasi, the contribution that warming made to the severity of that event. Anyway, I think the stories each stand on their own and on their merits.

ASTRID: One of the lessons I took is that, regardless of what an individual thinks of climate change and how it impacts their daily life, we all know that the emergency services and our access to them may impact our daily life. We all know that our access to healthcare, and to education, and to safe workplaces, and all of that, we all know they impact our daily life. And so as individuals and citizens, we need all of those organisations to be ready for climate change when and if it comes to our part of the world and help us. And that's our doctors who treat us, it's everything. Paddy, I want to ask, how did you find this research, these conversations, and putting together this work that is Body Count, and I hope everybody reads it, different from the other journalism, and the other writing, and the other books that you have put out into the world?

PADDY: Well, it was different because I was trying very deliberately not to interview the usual suspects. I didn't want the opinion, by and large, of politicians on the stories. I didn't want to ask climate policy types about it or write what we should be doing. I've been writing about climate change on and off for 20 years, and I didn't want to be using these stories as a way to bang a drum on a particular set of solutions to climate change or pretend that I've got all the answers. In fact, I was kind of... Part of the point that I was trying to make here is that, while we carry on debating this boring set of issues with an obvious set of solutions, year in, year out, making no progress, people are dying. And I wanted to just swing the spotlight away from all of these ridiculous climate wars and look at the casualties of the climate wars, rather than the protagonists.

You know what I mean? So, that's what I've tried to do with this book is go, ‘Let's just forget about that climate policy debate for a moment, and let's just look at actually the toll that it's taking on ordinary people already, including the worst thing that can happen, which is that it's killing people’. And so, yeah, I had a very tight focus, which is I only wanted to talk to people who'd actually lost immediate family members, really zoom in on those people. And I didn't always do exactly that, but I got pretty close with it, every one of the stories that I've told in here.

And yet, I also had to kind of underpin it with enough research to make sure that, okay, this is a valid case study. This is, in fact, an event that is attributable in some part to warming or which is the kind of thing that we can expect more of, given expected warming. I had to interview enough doctors and enough public health epidemiologists, and enough climate scientists to know that, yes, there really was a heatwave on the day in Sydney, in Western Sydney, on the day that Chuck McLeod died, so you're not barking up the wrong tree there.

It's an interesting process because I do the interview with each one of these stories... There'll be multiple interviews. And sometimes, of course, I'm giving information to the person I'm talking to. So, for example, David Tenner lost his wife, Alison, in the Canberra bushfires of 2003. It's a long time ago. He worked for the air force for a long time in maintenance and was stationed at the Richmond Air Force Base just northwest of Sydney on the day in January 2003, when the fire swept through Canberra. Their three kids, Alison, his wife, was at home in the western suburb, it's called Duffy, the western suburbs of Canberra, which were threatened by the fires.

David was in Sydney and unaware that the fires were even close, and the kids were up on the north coast, thankfully, with the grandparents, and Alison was having a rare bit of time alone. The story of the Canberra bushfires is pretty well told. The ACT authorities, with some help from New South Wales, tried to contain it, failed, and failed to give proper warning to residents about the severity, who were watching the smoke ember attack and were terribly worried about it, but were never advised to evacuate. In fact, they was told, ‘Go home, seal up your windows and doors, fill your bath with water’, and as the Special Commissioner of Inquiry afterwards kind of found, they were told that but they weren't told why to put water in your bath. So, Alison is watching the skies turn black. There is a fire coming out of the plantations, just literally one block away. She does everything that she's been told. David is completely unaware up in Sydney. Then she decides to go. She makes a run for it as the fires get too close. She goes out to the car but goes back into the house for some reason. Nobody knows why. Was it the cat? David thinks it might've been she went back in to get the cat. By that point, obviously the fire's coming so close, she thought, ‘I'll take refuge in the bath’, because maybe she thought... I don't know. David said, ‘I don't even want to think about what was going through her mind at that time’. But maybe she thought that the water would protect her. In the end, it didn't, of course, and she died in the bathtub there. And David said to me, right at the beginning, ‘Look, I'm no climate scientist’, and he's certainly not. If anything, his politics are skewed conservative. He's no climate activist by any stretch.

He said to me, ‘If it can be shown that these fires were caused by dry lightning, then I think I would accept that Alison's death was partly due to climate change’. Even though it's 17 years ago, it's still incredibly raw for him. It's only the last few years that he's been able to talk about it at all. He was very aggrieved. He was one of the people that sued the ACT government for failing to give proper warning to residents. He thinks it's a miracle that there were only four people that died that day. But, in the process of researching it, I go and speak to some fire scientists at The Bushfires and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research down in Wollongong, and they say to me that the bushfires in Canberra in 2003 were the first where more than a million hectares was burnt out by dry lightning.

Now, when I go back and tell David that, he goes, ‘Well, yeah, okay. I think that you can say her death was related to global warming’. That is the process of me, a hack journalist, in some ways giving information or educating a guy who's lost his wife in the tragedy that's broke his life in half. He ended up losing his job from PTSD and is only just recovering almost 20 years later and obviously affected the kids' lives. It shouldn't be that way. It shouldn't be that such a kind of thin read as a journalist who happens to be writing a book about it kind of connects that information with that guy. And I think that what it highlights is the failing of the national government to warn people. They have not come clean with us about the risks that we're running.

They've had this ridiculous policy debate and avoided the hard stuff. They've avoided the danger. Even though scientists have been telling the government for a long time, ‘We are running serious health risks here’, the government has not told the people. And that's a failing, given that Australia has a fantastic track record on public health. We've got a very strong health system. We've got an educated population, and we've got a great legacy of... Whether it's HIV/AIDS and the Grim Reaper campaign, whether it's John Howard's gun laws, whether it's our response to this pandemic, whether it's plain packaging, tobacco control legislation, we have led the world on public health campaigns. We know how to do public health campaigns. Yet on this issue, we haven't. And now why is that? And why is that? The answers are obvious. I don't even need to go into it.

It's negligence in my view on part of the Federal Government. But state governments are starting to act. I sort of came to a view, which was if it's not climate change that's killing us, it's ignorance. If we were told clearly what the risks were, we could manage them. We could pull together and do stuff. We're not bunnies in the headlights. We could actually make our community safer. We could stop building hot boxes that are going to kill the elderly. We would stop building next to forests. We would stop building on floodplains. There are a million things we can do, but we haven't done them, and authorities haven't done them because they've lost in this climate wars, which is tantamount to inaction.

ASTRID: A few moments ago, Paddy, you referred to the thin read of journalism, and I just need to disagree with you on that point. We need journalists and journalism, and I include your work in that part of the change that we need to act.

PADDY: Thank you.

ASTRID: Paddy, thank you so much for writing Body Count, and for doing it in a different way than other books about climate change and the environment are often written, and I do recommend everybody read Body Count. Thank you so much.

PADDY: Thank you, Astrid. Thank you for reading it.

ASTRID: Oh, of course.