«Return to Blog List Blog Action Day: EDF’s Storytelling Strategy

blog action day

Note: Today is Blog Action Day. More than 9,000 blogs around the world have committed to blogging today about one topic: climate change.

While doing research for my book, I came across Environmental Defense Fund. EDF partners with businesses, governments and communities to find practical environmental solutions.

I originally featured EDF in Stories That Sell because the company weaves storytelling into nearly all of its communications (newsletters, website, grant proposals, annual reports, etc.) in order to put a face on environmental issues.

Today, this blog spotlights exactly how EDF uses story to educate about the impact of climate change on our health:

Hotter Days Mean Unhealthier Air
Until developing asthma at age 12, Los Angeles resident Elizabeth Martin seemed born to be an athlete. She excelled in every sport she tried. “I loved soccer most of all,” says Martin. “I was always the fastest person on my team, and I was the top female runner in my school, most of the time beating the boys as well.”

Her dreams of a soccer career ended with the diagnosis of asthma, brought on by exercise. Martin took medication, but since most sports are played outside in the warm months, when smog shrouds the city, she soon found herself unable to participate. By age 13, her lung capacity was half what it should have been.

Martin’s story is likely to be shared by increasing numbers of active children–everywhere. Global warming is expected to increase the number of very hot days around the U.S., elevating smog levels to unsafe levels.

According to Dr. John Balmes of the American Lung Association of California, higher smog levels “may cause or exacerbate serious health problems, including damage to lung tissue, reduced lung function, asthma, emphysema, bronchitis and increased hospitalizations for people with cardiac and respiratory illnesses.”

Smog forms when sunlight, heat and relatively stagnant air meet up with nitrogen oxides and various volatile organic compounds. Exposure to smog can do serious damage to our lungs and respiratory systems. Inflammation and irritation can cause shortness of breath, throat irritation, chest pains and coughing and lead to asthma attacks, hospital admissions and emergency room visits. These consequences are more severe if people are exposed while being active.

More hot days mean better conditions for creating smog that can trigger asthma and other breathing problems.

“The number of people with asthma in this country has more than doubled over the past 25 years, led by soaring rates in children” says Dr. John Balbus, head of Environmental Defense’s health program. “With climate change worsening smog in some areas and altering pollen levels, future air quality may pose a greater threat to our health, especially those of us with asthma and other lung diseases.”

“To this day, I am bound to the indoor gym for any heavy-duty exercise,” says Martin, now a college graduate. “I know for a fact these illnesses are related to the horrendous air quality in Los Angeles,” Martin says. “I want to raise my children in Los Angeles. I love this city. But I fear that what has happened to me will happen to them.”

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