Critique of Circular Economy as Delusional Storytelling Discourse


Antenarrative Blog Post by David M. Boje Aug 1 2019

Why the Circular Economy Narrative is Delusional Storytelling? It is delusional storytelling discourse because circular economy assumes that economic growth can happen while exceeding the nine planetary limits of life support systems. Sadly, the circular economy narrative and the logic of circularity that needs to be challenged as ‘circular reasoning’ have colonized both the United Nations Agenda 2030 and the European Union Agenda 2030.

What is the circular economy? “A circular economy (often referred to simply as “circularity” is an economic system aimed at minimizing waste and making the most of resources. In a circular system resource input, and waste, emission, and energy leakage are minimized by slowing, closing, and narrowing energy and material loops; this can be achieved through long-lasting design, maintenance, repair, reuseremanufacturing, refurbishing, and recycling” ( The advocates of ‘circular economy’ are consulting firms such as McKinsey, attempting to convince their clients: “a sustainable world does not mean a drop in the quality of life for consumers, and can be achieved without loss of revenue or extra costs for manufacturers.”

I just put in this critique of circular economy in the wikipedia webpage.

Critiques of circular economy (posted as change Aug 1 2019) t

“The logic of the ‘circular economy’ narrative and discourse: business can be as profitable as it has been in the linearity model of grow now, clean up later (focus on short-term gains at expense of long-term externalities). While it is possible to somewhat reduce, reuse, and recycle, in its circularity the circular economy is all about sustainable economy, and sustainable development without limits to growth, that can keep placing more demands for additional natural resources, evermore growth, and does not account for exceeding nine planetary limits on the carrying capacity for all life on planet Earth. Circular economy uses the same logic as ‘triple bottom line’ and therefore merits the same critique. Triple Bottom Line (3BL) of people, planet and profit (aka economic prosperity or by the economic, equity and environment (aka, Triple Bottom Line or 3BL), puts profit/economic ahead of people/equity and planet/environment. As with 3BL, circular economy has robust measures of profit/economic variables but not much on the people/equity or planet/enironment. The premise of the Circular Economy is a set of boundary conditions that ensure all activity translates to contributing toward positive impact for the Triple Bottom Line (3BL) people, planet and profit (aka economic, equity, & environment)

‘Given the all too obvious social and environmental crises associated with out-of-bounds growth capitalism, the circular economy has been one of the main references for rebuilding and reforming a political economy of sustainable growth’ (Valenzuela & Böhm, 2017: 23)” (

I will elaborate by deconstruction of circular economy and put this consultant’s strategy to co-opt the EU and UN into historical perspective.

“In January 2012, a report was released entitled Towards the Circular Economy: Economic and business rationale for an accelerated transition. The report, commissioned by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and developed by McKinsey & Company, was the first of its kind to consider the economic and business opportunity for the transition to a restorative, circular model” (

The fallacious logic is that circularity narrative is that business can be as profitable as it has been in the linearity model of grow now, clean up later (focus on short-term gains at expense of long-term externalities), which is pretty much status quo business model of late modern capitalism. My assessment is that the narrative self-deconstructs: While it is possible to somewhat reduce, reuse, and recycle, in its circularity the circular economy is all about sustainable economy, and sustainable development without limits to growth, that can keep placing more demands for additional natural resources, evermore growth, and does not account for exceeding nine planetary limits on the carrying capacity for all life on planet Earth. Two clients for circular economy (aka circularity) consulting are the United Nations and the European Union.

Agenda 2030 began with In June 1992, at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, more than 178 countries adopted Agenda 21, a comprehensive plan of action to build a global partnership for sustainable development to improve human lives and protect the environment.

The 8 Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations, initiated 2000, to reduce extreme poverty by 2015,spanned the period between 2000 and 2015.

United Nations gathered in 2015, in New York City, to adopt 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that rely on more than 150 specific targets. SDGs explicitly address the impact of a tidal wave of economic change, which we are witnessing at a global level.

The UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development was adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015. It provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. … The MDGs were replaced by 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (  On 10 October 2018, ECOSOC and the Second Committee of the General Assembly of the United Nations held a joint meeting on Circular economy for the SDGs: From concept to practice.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is an action plan known as the Triple Bottom Line (3BL) of peopleplanet and profit (aka economic prosperity). There are 17integrated and indivisible goals, which balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economicequity and environment (aka, Triple Bottom Line or 3BL).

The premise of the Circular Economy is a set of boundary conditions that ensure all activity translates to contributing toward positive impact for the Triple Bottom Line (3BL) peopleplanet and profit (aka economic, equity, & environment). Therefore the 17 goals, and the associated 169 targets and 232 (non-repeating) indicators, represent a strategy plan framework to measure and evaluate the benefits and costs of the Circular Economy.


“Circular Economy for the SDGs: From Concept to Practice General Assembly and ECOSOC Joint Meeting  Draft Concept and Programme for the joint meeting of the Economic and Financial (Second Committee) of the 73 UN General Assembly and the UN Economic and Social Council” accessed Aug 1 2019 at

“In recent years, the circular economy has gained increasing prominence as a tool which presents solutions to some of the world’s most pressing cross- cutting sustainable development challenges. By addressing root causes, the concept of a circular economy, an economy in which waste and pollution do not exist by design, products and materials are kept in use, and natural systems are regenerated provides much promise to accelerate implementation of the 2030 Agenda”

The EU Agenda 2030 is a commitment to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development by 2030 world-wide, ensuring that no one is left behind (Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” including its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets was adopted on 25 September 2015 by Heads of State and Government at a special UN summit).

Screen Shot 2019-08-01 at 10.19.24 AM.png

At the heart of the UN 17 SDGs is the ‘circular economy’ strategy to give a new boost to jobs, growth and investment and to develop a carbon neutral, resource-efficient and competitive economy. According to the circular economy narrative, plotline, “Products and services designed in a circular way can minimize resource use and foster materials’ reuse, recovery and recyclability down the road”

The problem as I discussed in previous posts is that biosphere is the foundation of life on earth, not profit/economics. These SDG’s are fundamental to life on earth.

biosphere sdgs


These social SDGs are important and necessary

society sdgs

These economic ones are Not foundational to continued life on the planet.

economy sdgs

In short, circular economy puts SDGs 7, 8, 9, and 12 as the priority, when what needs to happen is deconstruct the whole narrative monologic that sustainable development is possible if the nine planetary limits are being transgressed (Rockström et al, 2009).

December 2015, the Commission adopted a Circular Economy Action Plan (REPORT FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, THE COUNCIL, THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE AND THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS on the implementation of the Circular Economy Action Plan

COM/2019/190 final accessed Aug 1 2019 at

In the EU, “ In 2016, circular activities such as repair, reuse or recycling generated almost €147 billion in value added while standing for around €17.5 billion worth of investments” (

I would love it if circular economy were an actual plan to reduce plastic production and consumption, plastic pollution, and actual generate zero growth in the plastic production, distribution and consumption.  It is voluntary! It is oriented to the small and medium sized corporations, not the plastic giants, and to consumers volunteering to change their plastic consumerism habits and plastic lifestyle.

“The strategy also identifies key actions enabling multi-stakeholder engagement and collaboration along the value chain. For instance, the call from the Commission on stakeholders to make voluntary pledges triggered strong momentum in the industry to boost the uptake of recycled plastics in products. However, as identified in the accompanying document assessing these pledges, more efforts are necessary to reach the objective set out in the strategy, namely to ensure that 10 million tones of recycled plastics find their way into new products by 2025” (

For more critique of Circular Economy see the following:

Lazarevic, D., & Valve, H. (2017). Narrating expectations for the circular economy: Towards a common and contested European transition. Energy research & social science, 31, 60-69.

Milne, Markus J.(2005). “From soothing palliatives and towards ecological literacy: A critique of the Triple Bottom Line.” Accessed Aug 1 2019 at

Norman, W., & MacDonald, C. (2004). Getting to the bottom of “triple bottom line”. Business ethics quarterly, 14(2), 243-262.

Rockström, J., Steffen, W., Noone, K., Persson, Å., Chapin III, F. S., Lambin, E. F., … & Nykvist, B. (2009). A safe operating space for humanity. Nature461: 472-475.

Valenzuela, F., & Böhm, S. (2017). Against wasted politics: A critique of the circular economy. ephemera: theory & politics in organization, 17(1), 23-60.Accessed Aug 1 2019 at





An alternative to the failed method of semi-structured Interviewing in Business Storytelling Research: The self-correcting storytelling conversation

A version of this blog post has been accepted to appear in

Business Storytelling and the ‘Storytelling Science’ of Self-Correcting Research’. Accepted Aug 12 2019 LJRMB London Journal of Management and Business | Vol:19 | Issue:2 | Compilation: 1.

When it does appear, this post will be removed


Bury semi-structured interviewing as a failed business storytelling methodology and start doing ‘storytelling science’ of self-correcting storytelling interviewing

Antenarrative blogpost  by David M. Boje, Aug 1 2019

It is time to bury semi-structured interviewing as a failed business storytelling and social science methodology.The Hawthorne Studies were transformed, when in July of 1929, after 1600 interviews, they halted the project, and changed their interviewing method from semi-structured and structured interviews they had called the ‘direct approach to questioning’ to the new ‘indirect approach’ in which people told their accounts and stories, without interruption, without the interviewer trying to herd the [storyteller] back so some a priori topics and sub-topics (Roethlisberger, Dickson, Wright, & Pforzheimer: 1939: 203).  The indirect approach to what we (Boje & Rosile, 2019 in this book) now call ‘conversational storytelling’ was found to produce less social desirability effects. Instead of semi-structured interviews, the psychologists and psychoanalysts recommended a purposive conversation.

We (Boje & Rosile, 2019 in prep) propose an alternative to semi-structured interviewing. Our alternative a way of doing a ‘storytelling science’ methodology called, “self-correcting induction” rooted in the work of Charles Sanders Peirce (1933-1937, 5.580, which hereafter means Volume 5, section #580, boldness ours): “In an induction we enlarge our sample for the sake of the self-correcting effect of the induction.”  Just before (5.579) Peirce amplifies his enthusiasm, “So it appears that this marvelous self-correcting property of Reason, which Hegel made so much of, belongs to every sort of science, although it appears as essential intrinsic, and inevitable only the highest type of reasoning, which is induction.” (p. 50 Boje & Rosile in draft of this book you are reading).

What does all this mean to do storytelling conversational interviewing?

  1. It has to be a back and forth, or its an interrogation
  2. It has to be dialogical or it’s reducing of dialogism to monological narrative fallacy
  3. It has to be dialectical, not just TAS narrative-counternarrative explorations in the interviews, if that is even possible, but the N of N dialectic of multiplicity ensembles
  4. It has to be not just Induction, but include Abduction and Deduction.

In each self-correcting phase of storytelling science, there is a cycle of Abduction-Induction-Deduction. Each storytelling conversational interview begins with Abductions that are explored in the interview with Induction inference inquiry. Either form the getgo are after the first cycle, there is Deduction from theories and from theorizing, and adjustments and new Abduction, then second cycle, more Induction, and in each cycle of self-correcting.

It is important because it is in Volume 5 section 580 that Peirce actually uses the term ’self-correcting effect of the induction.”  That said, it is only one part of the triad that Peirce is developing in his writing. By that I mean the cycle of abduction-induction-deduction, and includes four tests. Self-correcting ‘storytelling science’ conversational interviews involve enacting from 1 to 4 tests: (Boje & Rosile, p. 10):

“1.    Refutation test of self-reflexivity conversations,

  1. Critical cross-disciplinary conversations with others,
  2. Understanding scalability processes of nature, and
  3. Doing experiments and practice interventions to get closer to solutions to super wicked water and climate changes ushering in more and more crises are larger and larger scales.”

The four tests (as needed) are done in each cycle of self-correcting storytelling science. It is not the usual gather a bunch of interviews then transcribe them, and come up with a theme analysis to generate a typology. Rather, it’s a back-and-forth storytelling sharing, where you actually write down your Abductive hypotheses BEFORE the storytelling conversation (or participative immersion or experiment or intervention) and then do the Inductive inquiry of the co-sharing storytelling (back-and-forth), and Deductions from theory to local come BEFORE or AFTER each round of conversational interviews. It is therefore inadequate to stick to a protocol of semi-structured questions, since the theory assumptions (deductions), the inquiry (induction) and the propositional assumptions (abductions) change from round to round. The point we are making is to write it down, write out the abductions-inductions-deductions as you go, not post hoc, after-the-fact.For Popper what Peirce calls self-correcting is termed ‘trial and error’ of the scientific method, so we arrive closer to the truth (Popper, 1963: 318).

Keep in mind, semi-structure interviewing is not dialogical, it is interrogation, and it’s also not dialectical. To become dialogical and dialectic means doing ‘conversational interviewing’ where both parties are sharing stories, challenging stories, co-creating stories, in a back-and-forth, two-way exchange, not an interrogation ritual.

The dialogical (polyphony, stylistic, chronotopic, architectonic in Bakhtin, see Boje 2008 on this) is Bakhtin’s work. The four dialogisms are not separate. To have dialogical in a ‘conversation’ means recognition of the difference between what Bakhtin calls the narrative that he says is ‘always monological’ and the [living] story, which is always ‘dialogical.’ And there are the four kinds of dialogical relations in storytelling (polyphony, stylistic, chronotopic, architectonic).  They are entangled and inseparable in real life.

The dialogical is not independent or severed from the dialectical in storytelling conversation interviews, or in the semi-structured interviews.

The dialectical has several forms.  In all kinds of interviewing there are narratives in dialectical relation to counternarratives. This first dialectic is well known as thesis-antithesis-synthesis (TAS). The TAS interviewer has their starting narratives (implicit & explicit, many taken-for-granted) and tersely-told (Boje, 1991) in the questions posed, the inner dialogue, the body language, etc.).  The TAS semi-structured interviewer has an agenda of main questions, topics, follow-up, and probe questions. Each word, each terse construction of a question is embedded in the questioner’s dominant narrative (though much of it is unstated, yet constituted just the same).  The interviewee in TAS encounter with a questioner is trying to fathom the desired response being sought, and dodging the questions in order to embed their own counternarratives. Have you ever noticed people divert from the semi-structured interview protocol, and then the interviewer brings them back to the agenda topics. There is a grand assumption that synthesis between the interviewer and interviewer is resulting from effective communication. We know from the results of the Hawthorne studies that semi-structured interviews result in socially desired response, in interviewees withholding their truthing, their personal experience living stories, and instead obfuscate, dodge, deflect, and just keep silent about that so going on. That is why Hawthorne study brought in psychoanalysts and psychologists to assess all this, and recommended what we are now calling ’storytelling conversational interviews’ the back and forth.  My point in the first dialectic, is that it breaks down, and there is no synthesis, except in the mind of the interviewer, who writes up the transcripts, doctors the interpretation toward their own agenda, and tells a narrative different from the the interviewees (withheld) counternarrative. No synthesis as Adorno stresses in his book. Adorno, T. W. (1973). Negative dialectics, trans. EB Ashton (New York: Continuum, 1973).

The second form of dialectic is difficult to comprehend. It’s the ’negation of the negation’ (N of N) and is developed by Hegel, then redeveloped by Heidegger (1962, Being & Time) and by Sartre (1960).  Sartre, J. P. (1960). Critique of dialectical reason, vol I, theory of practical ensembles. London: New Left Review.  Notice that in the subtitle is the term practical ensembles. Sartre is critiquing Marxian dialectic (TAS) for ignoring the N of N dialectic processes.  Instead of splitting into a thesis and antithesis (or narrative and counternarrative) the N of N dialectic starts with ‘multiplicities’ and what Grace Ann and I call ‘ensembles of multiplicities.’  I try to develop this in Boje (2019). Boje, D. M. (2019). Organizational Research: Storytelling in Action. Routledge and in the text not yet published with Grace Ann. Boje and Rosile doing storytelling science with self-correction method (title not final) storytelling science of self-correcting storytelling conversations

Sartre ensembles multiplicities.png

Figure 2: Is from Boje & Rosile (2019, in prep) showing a sampling of a few of ways Sartre conceives of ensembles of multiplicities

If Hegel, Heidegger, and Sartre are onto something, then TAS dialectic by splitting thesis from antithesis and hoping for synthesis is too gross a move, and misses the N of N dialectic where I think that antenarrative processes are pre-constitutive of both narrative and story. Antenarrative works in the ensemble of diverse sorts of multiplicities. See above figure that gives a sampling of how Sartre uses ensemble in so many different ways.

dialectic and dialogical storytelling processes.png

Figure 1 is from essay Lundholt, M. W., & Boje, D. (2018). Understanding Organizational Narrative-Counter-narratives Dynamics: An overview of Communication Constitutes Organization (CCO) and Storytelling Organization Theory (SOT) approaches. Communication and Language at Work, 5(1), 18-29.

Above are dialectic (TAS) and dialogical processes together in the storytelling arena, without mention that negation of the negation (N of N) that is also part of the storytelling patterns.

Self-correcting ‘storytelling science’ is from work of C.S. Peirce and Karl Popper and several others listed below.  After a lot of reading of all the volumes of Peirce, I came up with this summary, which is extracted from p. 50 (Boje & Rosile):

“We propose a way of doing a storytelling methodology called, “self-correcting induction” from the work of Charles Sanders Peirce (1933-1937, 5.580, which hereafter means Volume 5, section #580): “In an induction we enlarge our sample for the sake of the self-correcting effect of the induction.” Just before (5.579) Peirce examples his enthusiasm, “So it appears that this marvelous self-correcting property of Reason, which Hegel made so much of, belongs to every sort of science, although it appears as essential intrinsic, and inevitable only the highest type of reasoning, which is induction.” (p. 50 Boje & Rosile book in process).


It is important because it is in Volume 5 section 580 that Peirce actually uses the term ’self-correcting effect of the induction.”  That said, it is only one part of the triad that Peirce is developing in his writing. By that I mean abduction-induction-deduction, and includes four tests. Self-correcting ’storytelling science’ conversational interviews involves enacting from 1 to 4 tests: (Boje & Rosile, p. 10):


“1.     Refutation test of self-reflexivity conversations,

  1. Critical cross-disciplinary conversations with others,
  2. Understanding scalability processes of nature, and
  3. Doing experiments and practice interventions to get closer to solutions to super wicked water and climate changes ushering in more and more crises are larger and larger scales.”


For Popper what Peirce calls self-correcting is termed trial and error of the scientific method we arrive closer to the truth (Popper, 1963: 318).


“We propose, a self-correcting abduction-induction-deduction semiotics, to get closer to approximations of ‘true’, knowing we are never arriving at ‘absolute truth’ because of our own fallibilism” (Boje & Rosile,2019 in prep to publish,  p. 8).


Quoting Boje & Rosile, pp. 8-9, boldness ours): “Self-Correcting ‘storytelling science’ with several metaphysical variations of dialectic, anti-dialectic, dialogic, antidialogic, antenarrative, anti-narrative from these sources:

  • Paulo Friere’s (1970/2000) oppositions of dialectical and anti-dialectical with dialogical and anti-dialogical
  • David Boje’ (2011) ‘antenarrative’ and ‘anti-narrative’ and colleagues’ (Boje ed. 2011; Boje & Sanchez, Eds., 2019a, 2019b; Boje, Mølbjerg Jørgensen, 2018) antenarrative and anti-narrative notions and implications for ‘quantum storytelling’ (Boje, 2014; Boje & Henderson, 2014; Henderson & Boje, 2016; Boje, 2016a; Boje, Svane & Gergerich, 2016)
  • Mikhail Bakhtin’s (1981, 1990, 1993) anti-dialectical approach to several dialogisms (Boje, 2008):
  1. Polyphonic
  2.      Stylistic

iii.     Chronotopic

  1. Architectonic
  • Charles Sanders Peirce’s (1933-1937) ‘self-correcting’ semiotics of triadic of Abduction-Induction-Deduction (Boje, 2014)
  • Gilles Deleuze’s (1990, 1991, 1994, 1997; with Guattari 1987, 1994) anti-dialectics and retheorizing Bergson’s (1960, 1988) multiplicities as assemblages of intensive, extensive and virtual multiplicities (Boje, 2019b)
  • Karl Popper’s (2008) ‘zigzag’ of scientific method in the dialectical (thesis-antithesis-synthesis) problem solving to get closer to correct solution without falling into inductive fallacy in a moral ontology of middle ground between pessimism (Marxism) and optimism (positivism), and ‘Metaphysical Realism’
  • Henri Savall and colleagues’ ‘socio-economic’ approach of dialectics (triadic of Peircean ‘abduction-induction-deduction’ and qualimetrics (triadic of qualitative-quantitative-financial) in moral ontology of socially responsible capitalism (Savall, Peron, Zardet, & Bonnet, 2018; Boje, 2018a)
  • Hannah Arendt’s (1978) series of dialectic cycles of thesis-antithesis-synthesis that become spiral of self-correcting
  • Jean-Paul Sartre (1960/2004) dialectics of ‘negation of the negation’ in a practical ensemble of multiplicities as applied by Rosile, Boje, and Claw (2018) to ensemble leadership
  • Judith Butler’s dialectics of ‘negation of the negation’ as a way of undoing gender, and as applied by Riach, Rumens, and Tyler (2016) to Boje’s (2001, 2008) ‘antenarrative’ and use of ‘anti-narrative interviewing method’ applied to Butler’s (2005) giving account of oneself and (2004) undoing gender

Slavoj Žižek’s (2012) dialectics of ‘negation of the negation’ as a way to resurrect Hegelianism in relation to the Lacanian psychoanalytic.”

Next Table p. 31, from Boje & Rosile (2019, in prep):

Table 1: Conscientização and relation of anti-dialectical and anti-dialogical to their opposite with conversational storytelling

Anti-Dialectical Dialectical
Anti-Dialogical Semi-structured interviews reduce concrete to the abstract confirmation of themes & subthemes.


It is the crisis Western Ways of Knowing (WWOK)

Not listening to the Other



WWOKers not entering space of co-sharing and co-inquiry


IWOKers remaining voiceless

Dialogical Domesticated dialectic


Listening without co-inquiry

Not braiding conversations between WWOK and IWOK


Disappearance of social structure and social conditions co-inquiry

Conversational storytelling Conscientização



Double movement of dialectical and dialogical

Māori kōrero

Indigenous way of knowing (IWOK) ‘Native Science’

Freeing the Pedegogy of both oppressor and oppressed


What does all this mean to do storytelling conversational interviewing?


  1. It has to be a back and forth, or its an interrogation
  2. It has to be dialogical or it’s reducing of dialogism to monological narrative fallacy
  3. It has to be dialectical, not just TAS narrative-counternarrative explorations in the interviews, if that is even possible, but the N of N dialectic of multiplicity ensembles
  4. It has to be not just Induction, but include Abduction and Deduction.

In each self-correcting phase of storytelling science, there is a cycle of Abduction-Induction-Deduction. Each storytelling conversational interview begins with Abductions that are explored in the interview with Induction inference inquiry. Either form the getgo are after the first cycle, there is Deduction from theories and from theorizing, and adjustments and new Abduction, then second cycle, more Induction, and in each cycle of self-correcting.

Actually it’s that there are both dialectic and dialogical relational storytelling discourses (interdiscursivities) in the phenomenon. Being dialogical is being conversational storytelling, by sharing your own accounts, not just interrogation. Both dialectic (Sartre) and dialogical (Bakhtin) have what Peirce has called self-correction, and can be done with triadic of abduction-induction-deduction in series of refutation tests.

We cannot arrive at absolute truth, but can get closer than the usual relative social constructivism of semi0structured interviewing by engaging in relational process ontology and the method of self-correcting storytelling science in doing conversational interviewing, in multiple rounds, recording our abduction-induction-deduction cycle understanding, as we go, instead of after-the-fact.


Adorno, T. W. (1973). Negative dialectics, trans. EB Ashton (New York: Continuum.

Boje, D. M. (2019b). Organizational Research: Storytelling In Action. London/NY: Routledge. has 10 Relational process ontology approaches All 10 are 4th wave alternatives

Boje, D.M and Rosile, G.A. (2019 in process). Doing storytelling science of self-correction as an alternative to semi-structured interviewing See draft at

Lundholt, M. W., & Boje, D. (2018). Understanding Organizational Narrative-Counter-narratives Dynamics: An overview of Communication Constitutes Organization (CCO) and Storytelling Organization Theory (SOT) approaches. Communication and Language at Work, 5(1), 18-29.

Peirce, C. S. (1931-1935, 1958). Collected papers of Charles Sanders Peirce. [Volumes I–VI, ed. by Charles Hartshorne and Paul Weiss, 1931–1935, Volumes VII–VIII, ed. by Arthur W. Burks, 1958, quotations according to volume and paragraph.]. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Popper, Karl R. (1963). Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Roethlisberger, F. J., Dickson, W. J., Wright, H. A., & Pforzheimer, C. H. (1939). Western Electric Company. Management and the worker: an account of a research program conducted by the Western Electric Company, Hawthorne Works. for more books and articles for the ANNUAL STORYTELLING CONFERENCE IN LAS CRUCES NEW MEXICO


Dark Side of Business Storytelling Discourses: Implications for United Nations Actually Meeting Sustainable Development Goals

This is part II of my post on Dark Side of Business Storytelling Discourses.

I want to combine storytelling with discourse because they are inseparable, thoroughly entangled, and cannot be dissevered. My solution is to look at how storytelling (narratives & stories) are constituted by what I call antenarratives (what comes before narratives & stories, and the various ‘bets on the future’). Right now the business storytelling ‘bet on the future’ is that the status quo scenario of business-as-usual will resolve the situation of Sixth Extinction (Boje, 2019a) and there is some kind of magical Planet B from which to get more fresh water as the global warming on Planet A, leaves it too dry to support most humans, especially poor and minority humans, and most other species as well. So what if the 1% survives the rise in temperature beyond 2 degrees Centigrade, or even finds a shelter from 4 or 6 degrees. Most coastal areas will have sea rise, and their fresh water aquifers will urn brackish, with the rising temperatures, more evaporation, but are retention of it in the vapor atmosphere, which means less rainfall, and when it does its storms and flash flooding. I life in the desert and I hear we had 15 inches of rain a year when we moved here in 1996, but now there is 10 inches, and next year less than that as the global warming continues.

I am focusing on the water catastrophes that are entangled with global warming. Water is life, and we humans can only live threes days before our organs shut down, and then we die.  You might think that is the dark side of storytelling, buy you’d be wrong. The dark side is how business storytelling does not tell it like it is, and instead tells unrealistic stories of how economy growth can keep happening with various sustainability development scenarios. The problem is continued economy growth is incompatible with sucking the planet dry of its water and other natural environment capacities to support life on Earth.

There are three peak water crises (renewable, non-renewable, & ecological peaks)  that Circular Economy and Triple Bottom Line (3BL) are blind too. My storytelling discourse research finds this is because we in the business school have reduced deep ecology to a watered-down, shallow approach known as ‘corporatized environmentalism’ that promises continued economy growth is compatible with continued sustainable development. The fallacy of the circular economy is it does not account for the fact that the small gains in recycling and reducing in the circular economy are grossly insufficient to deal with the outcomes of growing and expanding the circular economy each year, thereby increasing the CO2 emissions making it impossible to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

peak water apocalypse.png

Figure 1: The Three Peak Water Events that Circular Economy is Not Accounting for Adapted from Boje and Mølbjerg Jørgensen 2018


The fallacy of Triple Bottom Line (3BL) is it assumes that there is or can be equality between Profit, Planet, and People metrics (Boje, 2016).

The United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have a narrative expectation of transformation, how the future of life on Earth will unfold, if and only if, CO2 emissions are contained so that global warming does not change the hydrological cycle. This overarching narrative of the UN SDGs is presented in gray.

orverarching UN SDGs narrative.png

Figure 2: The Overarching Narrative of the United Nations attempts to avert Apocalypse Doomsday Scenarios source

To avoid the catastrophes of the Sixth Extinction, various turgets and indicators have to be met by 2030, or the capacity of nature’s systems to support life on Earth will deteriorate.

All United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are Not Created Equal.

We need to deconstruct the ways economy SDGs Trump (yes its a pun) the society and the biosphere SDGs. How to relate the 17 UN SDGs to Business storytelling discourses. First sort the 17 UN SDGs into Biosphere, Society, Economy, and Partnering relationships. You will notice without the Biosphere there is no society and no economy.

BIOSPHERE is telling a story of Earth’s capacity to support life

biosphere sdgs.png

SOCIETY has problems and issues that are entangled with the life capacity of the biosphere. These are all important, but it takes Biosphere to support life.

society sdgs.png

ECONOMY growth is impacting not only society (the socio-economic nexus) but depleting the biosphere capacity to support life of all species. It’s not all about the economy. It takes a functioning Biosphere to support an economy.

economy sdgs.png

PARTNERING between the biosphere, society, and economy is necessary to keep the transformation from exceeding tipping points

17 SGG partnering.png

Yes, partnering between organizations is important to bring about changes in society SDGs and in Economy SDGs. However, without partnering with the Biosphere, living and doing economy within planetary capacity limits, it’s game over. There is No Planet B where we can draw more water, get clean air, and soil to grow food. Humans are not the only species. We are one among millions of species, all with rights to water.


Boje, D. M. (2016). Critique of the Triple Bottom Line. Pp. 181-198 in Grace Ann Rosile (ed.) Tribal Wisdom for Business Ethics. Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Boje, D. M. (2019a). Global Storytelling: There is No Planet B. Singapore/London/NY: World Scientific.

Boje, D. M. (2019b). Organizational Research: Storytelling In Action. London/NY: Routledge.

Boje, D. M. (2019c, in process). Storytelling Interventions in Global Water Crisis.Singapore/London/NY: World Scientific.


What is the dark side of business ‘storytelling discourse’? Circular Economy, Triple Bottom Line…

Blog post by David M. Boje July 26 2019, revised July 30 2019, in preparation for keynote to the Dark Side of Communication conference, August in Denmark.

What is the dark side of business ‘storytelling discourse’? In this presentation I want to bring business storytelling and critical discourse analysis (Fairclough, 1992, 1995, 2005) together in order to understand why there are inadequate preparations in advance to avoid the 97% consensus among climate scientists about what will happen by 2100 if major reforms to capitalism are not enacted in the next decade. Storytelling (narrative and story) have been treated as a mode or element of discourse (Keenoy, Oswick & Grant, 1997; Oswick, Keenoy, Grant, & Marshak, 2000). I would like to suggest that storytelling is inseparable from discourse (Boje, 2014), so I will use the term ‘storytelling discourse’. My purpose is to get at what Grove-White (1993) calls ‘moral discourse’ of environmentalism in technological society, in particular the corporatized environmentalism discourse of the business college, I propose has colonized universities, and the entire ‘sustainability development’ movement with they mythic notion, making the economy circular, will avert global warming and as planet heats up, water heats up, and the ecological peak water event happens (which I will explain as I go).

We are in an existential crisis, but being colonized and co-opted to be bystander storytelling discourse instead of taking the necessary climate action. In 1962 Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring, is a good example of the power of the dark side of storytelling discourse. She tells a story of the harmful effect of chemical, pesticides, including DDT polluting the land and water, resulting in contamination of the food chain, so there is a die-off.  The storytelling discourse brought about action, the Clean Water Act in 1972, the Clean Water Act in 1970, and the Resource Recovery and Conservation Act in 1976. But that was before the advent of corporatized environmentalism.

But something is wrong. We are not getting the climate action requisite to the climate science 97% agreement that global warming will be causing some major catastrophes if we stay on the business-as-usual course of inaction. We are colonized into inaction, distracted in 2019 by all the corporatized environmentalism, its storytelling discourse colonizes the ecological discourses, by quite shallow approaches to sustainability development, by conveying a growing number of climate myths that derail and deny the research results of climate science. Leading the way is the colonizing force of business storytelling discourses of the business schools I have work in 33 plus years, makes it seem as if continued economic growth is compatible with ‘sustainable development’ as if there is a planet B. I write about all this as Storytelling in the Global Age: There is No Planet B (Boje, 2019a, just published July 2019).

There is no planet B to bring freshwater to a dry planet. Business storytelling in the Global Age is how corporatized ‘fake storytelling’ of shallow sustainable development keeps the status quo fossil fuel industries, the plastic water bottle industry, and the water commodification and privatization industries from making the needed changes to avoid Sixth Extinction. Business schools’ ‘storytelling discourses’ have thoroughly colonized the university, resulting in rampant ‘academic capitalism’, displaced ‘real news coverage’ with ‘fake news’, turned public attention away from deep ecology, and co-opted the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), defanging them, so it is unlikely that CO2 emissions will be reduced in time to avoid Sixth Extinction, a prediction that most of humankind and most other species will die off from the global warming, its climate change, and of thirst in peak water crises (Boje, 2019c, in process).

With the predictable global warming, we are ill-equipped in business schools to prepare for when water is more valuable to business than oil. In other words, the neoliberal free market capitalism discourse and ideology of ‘business storytelling’ discourses (see https://davidboje.comfor Business Storytelling Encyclopediaproject), colonizes a Fake Storytelling (see that has co-opted the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals  (SDGs) with Corporatized Narrative Promises of Triple Bottom Line, Tale tales of Circular Economy, Schemes of Cap-And-Trade in Carbon Emissions, Financed Myths of ‘Climate Denial’ to slow down ‘Climate Science’, all in-order-to keep ‘Fracking Oil’, and prepare for when Water is more valuable than Oil, by ‘commodifying and privatizing water as if there is a Planet B, and the Sixth Extinction is not already unfolding here and now. It’s not just peak oil, and fracking and climate denial to keep the fossil fuel industry from accepting its complicity and accountability.

There is another set of peaks happening besides being on the downslope of peak oil. We are not just in global warming, our business practices have created three peak water crises. Our renewal water is on the decline, so is our non-renewable water, and the ecological water in the water cycle itself, more evaporation occurs, but too much of it stays in the atmosphere in vapor, and less falls to earth to replenish our thirst and the thirst of all living species for water.

peak water apocalypse.png

Figure 1: 3 Peak Water Catastrophes that Circular Economy is Blind to – Adapted from Boje and Mølbjerg Jørgensen 2018

My Storytelling Awakening in the Belly of the Beast Long long ago in a 1970s university far far away, I was an ‘organization and environment‘ major. In all the Ph.D. course I took, the ‘environment’ meant ‘other organizations‘ and had nothing at all to do with climate change and peak water shortages in the biosphere, or Gaia the living planet. I was unaware of how the discourses of natural environment, ecology, and biosphere had been purged from the business schools. My ‘organization and environment’ became combined with an interest in ‘storytelling’, as I moved to my first job at UCLA in 1978. There too, environment meant other organizations and had nothing to do with the biosphere in the Anderson School of Management. Then, at Loyola Marymount where I earned tenure and environment became a bit more, still pretty shallow, something to do with recycling, reducing, and reusing, but nothing about the living planet or planetary carrying capacity for living species. Students were amazing. They actually volunteered to in the university recycling program, turning plastic bottles starting to proliferate in the 1980s into T-shirts. The Academy of Management was a great bystander instead of heeding the call to do something about the current and coming eco-crises. The bright exception was becoming a cosigner for the formation of the Organizations And Natural Environment (ONE) division of the Academy of Management (AOM). It was an anchor for me, and place of awakening from the stupefied Business School reductionism of ecology to just ‘other organizations.’ I was also a co-signer to initiate Critical Management Studies (CMS) division formation. It gave space to faculty and students studying ecological crises such as Bhopal (2–3 December 1984) a disaster at Union Carbide India Limited. Here is where critical discourse and critical storytelling came together for me, in a critical storytelling discourse paradigm. The Bhopal gas tragedy of December 2nd 1984, brought out the need to change the bystander AOM paradigms. Bhopal killed 3,787 people. Sessions I attended in ONE and CMS in the 1980s gave me hope.  Here is an excerpt from the ONE constitution.To much of the AOM, ‘environment’ still meant just other stakeholder organizations.  It’s exciting to see ONE turn from ‘environment’ as just other organizations, to the ‘natural environment’:

“The Organizations and the Natural Environment Division is dedicated to the advancement of research, teaching, and service in the area of relationships between organizations and the natural environment … The pollution of air, water, and land, and the depletion of both renewable and non-renewable resources as a result of actions of formal organizations are the most obvious manifestations of these interactions and relationships” (ONE Division’s Constitution, AOM).


1979-1996, some 15 years in Los Angeles and with all its earthquakes, mud slides, fires, and smog, It dated on me that something weird was happening, but did not tie it to the courses I taught. 1996 I moved to the Chihuahuan Desert in New Mexico, which, where I live only gets 10 inches of water a year, Rio Grande river that since the 1990s does not have water in our lower reach during the hottest months, yet climate denial is in the storytelling discourses of the business school and the university. I have learned to appreciate the survival skills of the rattlesnakes, tarantulas, horny toads, scorpions, and centipedes of the Chihuahuan Desert.  I became part of the sustainability movement on the New Mexico campus, putting forward the senatorial motion for an Office of Sustainability and a Sustainability Council, I chaired twice. Our vision included developing a School of Sustainability. We got a Bronze, then earned a Gold Star from STARS twice.  Yet, I kept noticing that beyond a deteriorating, out-of-date, and stalled recycling of plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and some cardboard and paper, the bystander storytelling discourse of business school had infected, colonized, and dominated the academic capitalism of the university. Yes, pockets of climate science, but not enough climate action to slow the global warming or prevent the death by thirst from the peak water crises.

The Dark Side of Academy of Management Storytelling Discourses

I took a look at recent and current Management (Mgt), Organizational Behavior (OB), Organizational Development (OD), and Critical Management (CM) texts. I did a pilot sample of texts I had in my personal library. Clearly a random sample is needed. Here are my preliminary findings. I found in the Index of each book, there is still not that much about climate change or global warming, and nothing about the impact of increasing global temperature on the water cycle (see Table 1). Most mainstream texts in these disciplines do not address ‘natural environment’ at all, and some have a single or a few references to sustainability, ecology is here and there, but no full coverage of climate change or global warming in any of the texts I sampled.

Table 1: Comparison of ‘Natural Environment’ Coverage in OB, OD, OT, and Mgt textbooks

TEXTS ‘Natural Environ-ment’ ‘Ecology’ ‘Environ-mental


‘Sustain-ability’ ‘Climate Change’ ‘Global Warming’ All terms/

total pages


Mgt: Exploring Mgt Schermerhorn & Backrach 5th ed. 2007 0 0 2 0 0 2/354


OB: OB Robbins & Judge, 17th ed. 2017) 0 0 2 0 0 2/673


OD1: Managing Change, Creativity & Innovation (Dawson & Andriopoulos 2011, 2nded.) 0 0 0 0 0 0/412


OD2: Action Research Handbook (Reason & Bradbury 2008, 2nd ed.) 0 10 11 0 0 21/707


OD3: Handbook of Organization Development, Cummings 2008) 0 3 2 0 0 5/676



Mgt & Org: A Critical Text Linstead, Fulop & Lilley, 2009, 2nded.)

0 11 65 0 0 76/830



Mging & Orgs, Clegg, Kornberger & Pitsis 2005)

0 0 3 0 0 3/540


Key: Mgt= Management, OB= Organizational Behavior, OD = Organizational Development, CM = Critical Management

Looking at a count of the number of pages for all terms. One CM text (Linstead et al, 2009) had the most coverage in my non-random sample: 9.16% (76 out of 830 pages).

graph of books

Figure 2: Comparison of Coverage of ‘Natural Environment’ and related terms in OB, OD, and CM textbooks

My interpretation (an abductive hypothesis for others to check out in a complete random sample), there is in  the mainstream texts in mgt OB and OD have less coverage than the Critical Management (CM2) text by Linstead et al. This is a skewed distribution, since with the exception of the CM2 and OD2 texts, there is hardly any coverage (a page or two, or none at all for OD1). Mgt celebrates Patagonia and Unilever for its sustainability goals.” Not in the index, I searched and found single sentence about water, global warming and climate change. Using online searches of the sampled texts needs to be done.  For example in the 2 pages on ‘sustainability’ in the Schermerhorn and Bachrach Mgt text: (p. 76) The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is mentioned as a front-page issue, but Scherhorn and Bachrack explain” business practices pose risks, present and footer, to humankind and the natural environment. And it should prompt you to be concerned about the event to which we are abusing versus protecting, and consuming versus conserving, the world’s resources.”  On p 77 of the Mgt text, sustainability is presented “as a priority of the times, affecting all of us and all institutions of our society… the rights of both present and future generations as stakeholders of the world’s natural resources…”

“Water is becoming scarce and global warming and climate change are accelerating” (p. 77). While this is accurate, one sentence is not adequate to the challenges. The business Mgt and OB storytelling presents CEOs as the heroes, implementing sustainability goals.

It is presented is if it is possible to meet the “needs of customers and protect or advance the well-being of our natural environment” without any sense of contraction of how “harmony with nature” and “exploiting nature” can happen at the same time.


The OB text (Robbins & Judge) uses 3M corporation as a positive example of sustainability (1 of its 2 pages), but does not explain further. Nor is there any critique of 3M for its role in C8 (aka GenX) teflon pollution of the ground water near its plant, and the resultant medical health consequences of teflon chemical ingestion.

I will argue that Mgt and OB has much less coverage of global warming and the peak water crises unfolding, thereby preventing concerted climate action, and this is perpetrated by texts deploying the storytelling discourse of ‘corporatized environmentalism’ which puts students into a bystander role, rather than what Bakhtin (1993: 3) calls ‘moral answerability’ for being there in the once-occurrent eventness of Being with an ethical responsibility to intervene, to prevent tragedy (See Boje, 2008 for Bakhtin’s dialogism, and Boje 2008b for distinction between bystander [special] answerability and ‘moral answerability).

Has mainstream Mgt, OB, OD, and much of CM avoided its own moral answerability and complicity for climate change, global warming, and the hydrological cycle of planet Earth?  After all, none of the texts is tackling the topics of natural environment, climate change, or global warming, though there is critique of sustainability greenwashing in CM1.  Most (with the exception of CM1) are laudatory about corporate sustainability programs, or in Mgt text mention climate change and global warming as a sustainability goal of Unilever’s CEO.

CM1: Mgt & Org: A Critical Text Linstead, Fulop & Lilley, 2009, 2nded.) Linstead, Fulop and Lilley (2009) in chapter 5 by Linstead and Banerjee  ask, “How does the natural environment impact a company’s business?” (p. 239). Linstead and Banerjee do some storytelling discourse, in a case of a transnational mining corporation. Rana Base returns from a European Union conference about some new environmental legislation that his mining company had worked hard to delay as long as possible. He returns to headquarters to find to his horror, the largest customer has returned $1.4 million product order because of ‘excessive packaging’ too much styrofoam and plastic. The customer wants to know about how much carbon is in the plastic and paper, and what is the company policy and strategy for natural resources, including an account of just where the wood for the packing crates is sourced. The case tells of Australian Aboriginal communities intensifying their protests of the mining operations, the discharges of effluents aristo the Pibara River are causing destruction of the water and will cost millions to create the waste water management, the emissions controls, to get the effluents under control. More and more environmental groups around the world are targeting the mining company, claiming water pollution, and asking tough questions about environmental strategies and practices. The case brings to the foreground the natural environment in which the transnational mining company is operating. It can no long play the bystander role, and its strategy of denial rhetoric is failing to persuade anyone.

In the next post I will address what can be done about business storytelling discourses colonizing the sustainable development goals of the United Nation’s attempts to keep humanity form dying of thirst in the Sixth Extinction.


Bakhtin, M. M. (1993). Toward a Philosophy of the Act. Written as unpublished notebooks written between 1919–1921, first published in the USSR in 1986 with the title K filosofii postupka; 1993 English V. Liapunov, Trans.; V. Liapunov & M. Holquist, Eds.). Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.

Boje, D. M. (2008a). Storytelling Organizations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Boje, D. M. (2008b). 2008 Critical Theory Ethics for Business & Public Administration | Information Age Press.

Boje, D. M. (2014). Storytelling Organizational Practices: Managing in the quantum age. London: Routledge.

Boje, D. M. (2016). Critique of the Triple Bottom Line. Pp. 181-198 in Grace Ann Rosile (ed.) Tribal Wisdom for Business Ethics. Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Boje, D. M. (2018a). Preface: “Global Capitalism is Unsustainable” for Savall, H., & Peron, Michel, Zardet, Veronique, & Bonnet, Marc. Socially Responsible Capitalism. London: Routledge. Citing from Boje – After TLH editing Apr 14 2017.docx

Boje, D. M. (2018b). Seven True Storytelling Solutions to the Global Water Crisis. Proceeding paper for 8thAnnual Quantum Storytelling Conference, December 13. Accessed Feb 9 2019 at

Boje, D. M. (2019a). Global Storytelling: There is No Planet B. Singapore/London/NY: World Scientific.

Boje, D. M. (2019b). Organizational Research: Storytelling In Action. London/NY: Routledge.

Boje, D. M. (2019c, in process). Storytelling Interventions in Global Water Crisis.Singapore/London/NY: World Scientific.

Boje, D. M.; Mølbjerg Jørgensen, Kenneth. (2018). Making the future: the antenarrative challenge of sustainability for problem-based learning. Chapter for Learning Organization Handbook.

Fairclough, N. (1992) Discourse and Social Change. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Fairclough, N. (1995) Critical Discourse Analysis: The Critical Study of Language. London: Longman.

Fairclough, N. (2005) Discourse analysis in organization studies: The case for critical realism. Organization Studies, 26(6), 915-939.

Fairclough, N., and Wodak R (1997) Critical discourse analysis. In T. A. van Dijk (Ed.), Discourse as Social Interaction. London: Sage.

Grant, D., Hardy, C., Oswick, C. and Putnam, L. (2004) Handbook of Organizational Discourse.London: Sage.

Grove-White, R. B. (1993) Environmentalism: A new moral discourse for technological society? In K. Milton (Ed), Environmentalism: The View From Anthropology.London: Routledge, pp.18-30.

Keenoy, T., Oswick, C. and Grant, D. (1997) Organizational discourses: Text and context. Organization,4, 147-157.

Oswick, C., Keenoy, T., Grant, D. and Marshak, B. (2000) Discourse, organization and epistemology. Organization, 7(3), 511-512.

Parker, I. (1992) Discourse Dynamics: Critical Analysis for Social and Individual Psychology.London: Routledge.

Phillips, N. and Hardy, C. (2002) Understanding Discourse Analysis.Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Phillips, N., Hardy, C. and Lawrence, T. (2004) Discourse and institutions. Academy of Management Review, 29: 635-652.

Phillips, N. and Di Domenico, M. (2007). Discourse Analysis in Organizational Research: Methods and Debates.Chap 31 in David Buchanan and Alan Bryman (Eds.) Handbook of Organizational Research Methods 

Putnam, L. L., and Fairhurst, G. T. (2000) Discourse analysis in organizations: Issues and concerns. In F.M. Jablin and L. L. Putnam (Eds),The New Handbook of Organizational Communication: Advances in Theory, Research and Methods. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.



The Gaia PhD is about Storytelling Solutions to Climate and Water Before 6th Extinction is Inevitable

The Gaia PhD.png

The Gaia PhDchangWebpage

Let’s create a new kind of university and a new society.  One that is about the living systems of living planet, ‘Gaia’.  Kenneth, Jens, and I are beginning the Gaia PhD.  Think of it as a different bet on the future than academic capitalism that has turned university education into just another corporatized commodity, and part of the climate denial machine. Think of Gaia PhD as a way to actually be interdisciplinary instead of insular silos. Or a way to work on solutions to global warming and changes to the water cycle. As the temperature of the planet warms from CO2 emissions, the water cycle shifts more vapor is held in the atmosphere, sea levels rise, ocean acidification takes place, there are both more droughts and more flash flooding.

I am a storytelling researcher. To do something about global warming and avert the Sixth Extinction, we will have to change the storytelling.  “There’s anywhere from 97% to 99% consensus among the world’s scientists studying this problem, that climate change is real and human caused” (Michael Mann). The climate denial storytelling machine is managing the narrative, so the politicians and the public deliver the myths about climate instead of the climate science research findings.

I am not convinced that we can wait for the US government to change its ways. Exxon has known since 1977 that the fossil fuel industries were causing global warming (source). It has spent 30 million in adverts promoting climate denial (source). Add to this what the Koch Brothers have spent: “Koch Family Foundations have spent $127,006,756 directly financing 92 groups that have attacked climate change science and policy solutions, from 1997-2017” (source).
Despite Exxon and Koch brothers denial machine, the climate scientists are in 97% agreement about global warming, about climate change resulting from industrial activity, much of it from fossil fuel emissions since the industrial revolution (source):
A Skeptical Science peer-reviewed survey of all (over 12,000) peer-reviewed abstracts on the subject ‘global climate change‘ and ‘global warming’ published between 1991 and 2011 (Cook et al. 2013) found that over 97% of the papers taking a position on the subject agreed with the consensus position that humans are causing global warming” (IBID.). The Top 10 Climate Myths that Fossil Fuel Industries and Koch brothers use to manage the climate change narrative.


Climate Myth What the Science Says
1 Climate‘s changed before” Climate reacts to whatever forces it to change at the time; humans are now the dominant forcing.
2 “It’s the sun” In the last 35 years of global warming, sun and climate have been going in opposite directions
3 “It’s not bad” Negative impacts of global warming on agriculture, health & environment far outweigh any positives.
4 “There is no consensus” 97% of climate experts agree humans are causing global warming.
5 “It’s cooling” The last decade 2000-2009 was the hottest on record.
6 “Models are unreliable” Models successfully reproduce temperatures since 1900 globally, by land, in the air and the ocean.
7 “Temp record is unreliable” The warming trend is the same in rural and urban areas, measured by thermometers and satellites.
8 “Animals and plants can adapt” Global warming will cause mass extinctions of species that cannot adapt on short time scales.
9 “It hasn’t warmed since 1998” Every part of the Earth’s climate system has continued warming since 1998, with 2015 shattering temperature records.
10 “Antarctica is gaining ice” Satellites measure Antarctica losing land ice at an accelerating rate.

See all 197 myths and what climate scientists are telling us.

Why is the climate denial myth-making happening? To manage the narrative about climate change, to keep it a debate, rather than accepting the consensus among climate scientists. Why? Follow the money. The longer Exon and Koch brothers delate politicians from making policy changes to the status quo, the more money they make.

You can watch this YouTube to get a sense of where I live in New Mexico. We get 10 inches of rain. There is drought and flash flooding.

To Change the Course of History, Change the Storytelling. We can make new bets on the future. We can learn important lessons from Mother Nature.  
Few people in my community are harvesting the rain water. We live in a county that is too poor to take care of its roadways. Yes, we pay our taxes, but we have to take care of our own county roads. Our horse ranch has an arroyo running through it.
In lower left is more vegetation because it’s the lowest area on the property. An arroyo flows diagonally from upper right to lower left, then crosses Dunn Drive and heads on towards the city of Las Cruces. Another arroyo (Arroyo Seco), also a county road that is not maintained by anyone but volunteers runs from higher ground (the Organ Mountains) and to the city catchments.  The city cares for Dunn Drive north of Aldrich, but does not care for Dunn Drive because when it hits our address, it become county road (and is not maintained at all). There once was a 90 plus man down Dunn that had a tractor and would smooth out the bumps, but no one has seen him. Aldrich road from our home going a long city block to the west is also not maintained. Some dude owns a property on the land, and is refusing the city access on Aldrich, so that road is not maintained (you have to live here to understand how complex the rights to which agency of the government can do what or not). Across Dunn to the east is the Bureau of Land Management land, and city and county have not quite figured out who has jurisdiction.
In the foreground are photo voltaic that I installed, and in the background are ones we had professionally installed. I welded up the frames and dug the post holes for ones I installed. The systems produce enough electric that El Paso Electric pays us 100 to 200 dollars each month for our excess capacity.
I set up an observation post using some aluminum for shade I recycled from an old solar water heater system that got struck by lightning, frying the pumps along with the PV inverter (which we replaced).
To get some understanding of the growing gap between Gaia and humanity, especially in the US, I have begun to do some detailed observations, to gather antenarrative material. Antenarrative is the ‘stuff’ before, beneath, between, becoming, beyond both narrative and story forms, and it’s all the bets on our future. The status quo bet of the US government is that  western capitalism and academic capitalism are going to save us by carbon credits, privatizing city (municipal) water services and commodifying freshwater around the world. Some put their faith in the narrative called triple bottom line, while others favor a circular economy narrative, will answer the challenge of global warming.
The problem with the triple bottom line (profit, people, & planet) narrative is it is really just a profit strategy exploding people and planet. The problem I see with circular economy narrative, is it ignores its own growth trajectory. Circular economy is defined as an economic system aimed at minimizing waste and making the most of natural resources. That sounds ideal, until you stop to realize, economic systems keep growing requiring more and more natural resources (oil, gas, water) to sustain them.  Sorry to inform you. More recycling and reducing waste in the circular economy, is a circular narrative, a circular logic that is ignoring the realities of growth and greed.
To change the future we need to change the storytelling about water and climate, and what must be done about it now.
extinction rebellion logo2
The Extinction Rebellion is happening (join). Water warrior vigils are happening (Join ). People are rebelling, using peaceful protest and civil disobedience to change the storytelling about climate change.


The Dark Sides of Climate/Water Storytelling is Our Own Complacency

Antenarrative Blog Post by David M. Boje, July 19 2019

Our orgnizaitonal storytelling has many dark sides. These dark sides make us complacent. Climate and water are entangled in the global warming shift. I will therefore use the term climate/water here. Shifts in global average temperature affects freshwater, sea levels, and water wars between upstream and downstream. This is because seemingly minor shifts in global average temperature impact the water cycle as water moves from surface and significantly more is retained in atmosphere, and as ocean acidification, chemical pollution intensifies, and so on. Science is in almost unanimous agreement that global average temperature warming threatens the well-being of future generations of people, and the rest of life on the planet. Science is also in agreement that our current actions are too little too late to avert Sixth Extinction. This inaction is related to the dark sides of climate/water storytelling.

The are many dark sides in climate/water storytelling

It is too easy to ignore threats to climate and water that are not immediate: This dark side of climate/water storytelling is about how the human brain works. After millions of years of evolution, the cortex is alert to immediate threats, quick to signal the limbic hormones, and instruct the brain stream to put the body into one of the four F’s: fight, flight, freeze, or faint (see This dark side of our storytelling affects the remaining dark sides.

The Storytelling Organizations of Denial have Malfeasance and Malpractice: Peddling climate denial is easy because of how our evolutionary brain works. “Conservative politicians, corporate interests and their think tank sycophants have knowingly peddled climate denial for decades. This is straight-out malfeasance and malpractice in terms of political and research ethics” (

Our Western Life Styles in Late Modern Capitalism make us blind to the changes needed to avert Sixth Extinction: We produce and consume in capitalism in ways that are distance from nature. We live in an artificial world of consumerism and work in production systems that are unsustainable. Given our evolutionary brain circuitry and the climate denial lobby, our western life styles are stuck in addiction to the status quo, rather than active intervention.

The Business Storytelling is Humancentric instead of Posthumanist: “The dominant rhetoric might decry what global warming will do to human societies, but it rarely speaks of what it does and will do to the creatures and ecosystems with whom we share the earth. Pope Francis’ Ladauto Si is a sterling exception in this regard” (IBID). Being human centric, the dark side of water storytelling is the impact of our industrial civilization lifestyles on other species. Our organizational storytelling is spiciest, more humancentric than about how climate/water cycle changes affect all living species on the planet.

Our Climate/Water Crisis is Exponential Change, but our Storytelling is Linear: Linear storytelling has a beginning, middle, and end emplotment, but the complexity dynamics of climate/water changes are a multiplicity of forces with threshold (tipping point) and multifractal patterns (Boje, 2016: Boje & Henderson, 2014; Henderson & Boje, 2016).

At a Nation level, the Dark Side of Climate/Water Storytelling is Blaming the Victim: “Historically, the global north of industrialized nations (the United States and western Europe) has contributed most to global warming … The rich, Western, industrialized countries should share the largest burden not only for historical reasons, but because they are wealthy enough to absorb the costs for the long-term well-being of themselves and the global south” ( Global north blames global south, while not changing global north consumer and production habits. Developing nations negotiating position seems more focused on better positioning the economy for the global stage, than it is in meeting its common if differentiated responsibilities (IBID).

The 1%-ers wealth-accumulation is at the expense of climate/water justice” “Climate justice refers to the disproportional impact of climate change on poor and marginalized populations, while climate equity refers to who should bear the burden of responsibility for addressing climate change” ( Eight multi-billionaires have accumulated over half the wealth of the world (Boje, 2019a).

What are the Antenarrative ‘Bets on the Future?’

Bet 1 on 100 Years: “According to the American Meteorological Society, there is a 90 percent probability that global temperatures will rise by 3.5 to 7.4 degrees Celsius (6.3 to 13.3 degrees Fahrenheit) in less than one hundred years, with even greater increases over land and the poles” (

Bet 2 on Ten Years: Extinction Rebellion is betting on making a change in 10 years, or tipping points will make extinction for future generations highly probable.

Bet 3 on Five Years: When two degree Celsius temperature tipping point in exceeded in next five years, and degrades the water cycle tipping points, the most probable impact will be Sixth Extinction by 2100 (Boje, 2019a, Global Storytelling: There is no Planet B).

In sum, our organizational and humancentric storytelling habits are underestimating the magnitude of threats posed by climate change on freshwater scarcity. and not aligned on the temporal horizon of acting in advance of nonlinear complexity dynamics.

Who has Moral Answerability to Curb Emissions?

There is a difference between being a bystander as the climate/water crisis that is preventable becomes Sixth Extinction, fait accompli. Bakhtin (1993) distinguishes between bystander (special) answerability and moral answerability (actually intervening in once-occurrent event of Being).


Bakhtin, M. M. (1993). Toward a Philosophy of the Act. Written as unpublished notebooks written between 1919–1921, first published in the USSR in 1986 with the title K filosofii postupka; 1993 English V. Liapunov, Trans.; V. Liapunov & M. Holquist, Eds.). Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.

Boje, D. M. (2016). Organizational Change and Global Standardization: Solutions to the Standards and Norms Overwhelming Organizations. London/NY: Routledge.

Boje, D. M. (2019a). Global Storytelling: There is No Planet B. Singapore/London/NY: World Scientific.

Boje, D. M. (2019b). Organizational Research: Storytelling In Action. London/NY: Routledge.

Boje, D. M. (2019c). Storytelling Interventions in Global Water Crisis. Singapore/London/NY: World Scientific.

Boje, D. M., & Henderson, T. L. (Eds.). (2014). Being quantum: Ontological storytelling in the age of antenarrative. UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Henderson, Tonya L.; Boje, David M. (2016). Managing Fractal Organizing Processes. NY/London: Routledge.

Meditating on 6th Extinction with Desert Critters, Creosol and Mesquite

Blog post by David M. Boje, July 14, 2019 updated July 15 2019



I am part of Extinction Rebellion (ExR). We want politicians to engage to declare a climate emergency, then make the kinds of policy changes that will avert extinction. Global warming changes the water cycle. Raising average global temperature changes the water cycle. It also changes the vegetation existent in the water cycle at higher temperatures. Two specifies we in the southwest in the heat of the desert,  can learn from are the creosol bush and the mesquite tree. Two critters we can learn from are rattle snakes and tarantula. They live simply on less water. Here I am meditating on water, and the arrival of Sixth Extinction.

Storytelling Research of Climate Change, Water Cycle and Vegetation Colonies

The basic problem I want to address is how globally warming the water cycle, and Sixth Extinction are quite long term phenomenon, but our democracies are adapted to making short-term investments that benefit the surplus-value extraction by corporations, supplying election monies to political candidates.  We clearly are on a short-term path, a water binge, with no apparent way to avert Sixth Extinction. The 1% are oriented to short-term gains in their wealth, even at the expense of long-term preparing in advance to mitigate the climate change, including impact on water cycle and global water scarcity, water shortages, and day zeroes when tap water runs dry. We are in the throes of the Sixth Extinction, and there is no planet B to get more water that with hotter global average temperature is in the water vapor atmosphere rather than falling to nourish life on land (Boje, 2019a, 2019c).

We will have to learn to care for water, reuse it, not pollute it, but the preparations to prevent the die-off of five billion humans, most of marine and land species, is inevitable without dramatic change in consumerism and production activities. To learn, I am using storytelling methods (Boje, 2019b) especially self-correcting ‘storytelling science’ methods, to study my own complicity in global warming, the degrading water cycle, and the kinds of vegetation that  colonize the Southwest desert where I live in Las Cruces, New Mexico.  I hope to learn how to regreen the desert, how to live more simply with less water, and leave water for others, such as desert critters, and bring back grassland from the cresol and mesquite, which we can also learn from. Before we get to creosol and mesquite, let’s be clear how global warming and the water cycle crisis of the southwest and globally, are related.

How does climate change impact the water cycle?

Climate change intensifies the water cycle. As air temperatures increase, more water evaporates into the air. Warmer air can hold more water vapor, which can lead to more intense rainstorms, causing major problems like extreme flooding in coastal communities around the world. As the southwest turns more arid, the creosol and mesquite tree invade, displacing the grass and other semi-arid species.

The water cycle is very dependent upon global temperatures. Put simply the water cycle is how water evaporates from land and sea, then returns to Earth as rain and snow. Climate change increases both droughts and heavy rains.  Global warming of air temperature is affecting things like water vapor concentrations in the atmosphere, precipitation rates, and stream flows. Warmer air holds more water vapor in the atmosphere, resulting in more intense rain storms and flooding in some areas and where I live in New Mexico, more dry air is held in the atmosphere as water vapor, and less falls to Earth. This results in more drought, as evaporation increases our soil dry out, and the desert transforms from semi-arid to arid. In New Mexico, we now get 10 inches of rain a year. So when rare rains do come, the soil is so hard, and cannot penetrate the ground, and evaporates even more rapidly. Rain water runs off quicker and quicker, taking with it the top soil. As water gathers speed, it cuts deep arroyos into the land, and water does not spread to surrounding ground.

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Figure 1: Observing the Arroyo Near our Ranch on East Mesa just beyond Las Cruces New Mexico

This arroyo is a frequent walk I make with dog, Sparkles (and with Sparky & Honey till they passed). The arroyo has dug about 75 feed into the earth. Along the ridges creosote and mesquite grows. But in the basin, you get a sense of the grassland and types of vegetation that existed before Spanish contact, before the overgrazing, and if regreening the desert is possible, these grass and shallow-root plants could come back to the landscape above.

Here is another view of the same arroyo against background of the Organ Mountains.

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Figure 2: Another view of the Arroyo with Organ Mountains

The  prolific creosote bushes in the foreground and not much some else anywhere is from the way the arroyo cuts deep into the land, so water does not spread out, and the topsoil has all run off. It is a downward spiral of climate change brought on by human activities, as a tipping point happened and invasive species out competed the grassland. 

How do we observe and interact with the water catastrophes of the water cycle?

To spend time observing water’s relation to vegetation in a changing climate is a form of mediation. It is mediation that sinks us into our own living story practices (See Boje’s What is Living Story Web at

A living story has a place, time, and a mind. This is a mediation in silence and contemplation of the circle of life. Water has an aura that is shown in every living thing, even the creosote and mesquite of an arid desert.  Water energy can be quite violent, such as when the monsoon rain burst onto the land, and the water runs fast cutting arroyos deeper into the landscape. The wind manifest dust devils that will peel the paint off your car. Water descends in hail storms, that dent the cars, and create business opportunities for dent-removal. Water mediation is about entanglement with all kinds of nature.

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Figure 3: Pond near Ranch, Full after Monsoon Rainfall

There is a pond nearby. I often walk there, and during the dry season, no water, only trash from the people using it as a shooting gallery or a place to try out their four wheel drive. There are amazing critters coming to drink, such as dragon flies. There are dormant creatures, like the spade foot toad and tadpole shrimpe that come to life when the monsoon fills the pond.

tad pole

Figure 4: I see these all the time in the Pond when its Full

“The tadpole shrimp colonizes freshwater temporary ponds, such as dry lakes and vernal pools, throughout the Southwest. Females lay eggs that can survive in the sand or dried mud, dormant for several years. When placed in water the eggs hatch over a period of time and the cycle begins again” (

After a week or so, of no rain, the pond water evaporates.

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Figure 5: Pond empty in dry spell used a play area for SUVs and Shooters

pond trashed


Figure 6 A & B: Pond Trashed (top photo taken last year after rain; lower photo taken July 15 2019 8AM, not enough rain to fill pond)

It’s always sad when Sparkles and I walk to the pond and find it trashed. The county raised its landfill rate, so poor people are dumping more trash in the desert. You can see above the pond is about empty.  I think people with no reverence for water or life, just toss their trash here because the sense the energy. They seem to toss the trash in the most high energy places. It could be they sense the positive energy, and out of ignorance have to pollute it. My dad always told me, ‘leave a place better than you found it’ and ‘pack out whatever you pack in.’ Sparkles and I usually carry a canvas bag and collect the trash. This will take a few trips. Sometimes the boy scouts will come out and help. One of my students wrote the No Throw App. Download it and do the right thing.

The desert can be quite beautiful. Let’s keep it that way. Here we see a double rainbow, and the promise of rain to bring life to pond and all the desert life.

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Figure 7: A Double Rainbow above the Desert Vegetation at our Small Horse Ranch in New Mexico

It begins with observation, meditation, and interaction with water cycle and vegetation, where we work and live. There is much beauty to observe, such as this double rainbow above the creosote and mesquite, and the drank rain cloud that bring life is water to the desert.

Take an inventory of our water and vegetation habits as individuals, community, organizations, and societies where we work and live. Climate and water scientists say that its our human activities of production and consumption that are changing since the Industrial Revolution, since World War II, since the introduction of plastic, since our life and work changed our water footprints again and again.


Figure 8: Shade I made on July 14 to keep the sun off when I meditate and observe

Shade from reused aluminum from recycled solar water heater. I added a chair frame I put a seat on from the county’s landfill. In the yellow bucket I am drying mesquite beans. Pick them when they turn golden in the sun.


Figure 9: Demi Lune (half moon) birm to harvest rainwater

Climate, Water and Vegetation Meditation

We can learn from desert species, such as the creosote bush and mesquite trees taking over the southwest desert. As the heavy cattle grazing escalated after Spanish contact, the desert Southwest turns the climate atmosphere hotter and landscape drier, the semi-arid grasslands,, those flowing carpets of grass (Muhly [Muhlenbergia porteri]) were slowly replaced by the two vegetative colonizers, the creosol bushes.mesquite trees. Projections of future climate changes, these plants and trees colonize the desert, how much water and carbon are we losing to these quite aggressive and tough species dominating the landscape (  Once initiated by overgrazing, then propelled by global warming the creosote and mesquite trees benefit from higher temperatures and greater variability in rainfall, displacing the grassland, that had voluntarily, also adapted to hot and dry conditions. Creosote and mesquite roots reach much deeper than the grass roots, to access deeper water sources.  There are benefits of these colonizers, from shade, attracting wild life, and carbon capture, but it is encroachment at the cost of water regional ecohydrology, and water uses. 


Figure 9: A clump of grass growing beneath a Mesquite Tree in Southern New Mexico on our Small Horse Ranch

How does a clump of grass survive. Above this clump of grass grows in the shade of a mesquite tree. I am observing the creosote and mesquite tree activity before and after the rain, including the monsoon rains, and the dry periods between. Remaining rain water, deep underground cannot nurture the shallow-rooted plants.

Water has massing positive energy. All life needs water to survive. Living a simpler water life lets all critters and vegetation have water for life. Water stress affects all life. Interesting critters live in the desert heat, the sandy soil, among the mesquite and creosote.

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Figure 10: Western Diamond back Rattlesnake on way near where we live 

I observed this diamond back headed to the pond near where I live Rattlesnakes colonize and survive in arid habitats. This is an amazing critter. Leave it alone and it leaves you alone. Rattlesnakes do not waste water by urinating. They have great water sensemaking andcan detect water from great distances with their incredible senses of smell and tasteI see one or two a year, so I observe carefully and remain vigilant. It tries to let you know when you get too close.

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Figure 11: Tarantula in our driveway about to climb on my new book: Global Storytelling: There is no Planet Be

The Tarantula come out at night, in search of food or a mate. Some days, even during the day, they stroll by the hundreds. Amazing critters, they know how to live in the hot and dry desert. They dig holes in the desert and rest silently.  Tarantulas drink with their mouths, which is located under the fangs, and a pumping stomach, and store in the abdomen. if you notice a Tarantula’s abdomen is shriveled, make sure you give it food and water. This is a sign of under feeding and dehydration.

Mesquite trees have also mastered the art of living in the desert. They have photosynthetic metabolism at half the rate of shallow plants, regardless of hot and dry conditions ( Monsoon downpour will nature the soil, but most runs off, and evaporates quickly.  Water that does saturate the soil, the creosote and mesquite deep-roots access it. 


Figure 12: The ‘King Clone’ Creosote Rhizome in the Mojave Desert is 11,700 years old 

Enter the Creosote 

After a rain, I can snell the creosote. The creosote expands in a circular grown pattern, and can reach fifty feet in diameter.   Larrea divaricata is thought to be the oldest living thing on earth. King Clone, a creosote bush found in the Mojave desert is estimated to have grown from a seed nearly 12,000 years ago ( “Each giant ring of shrubs comes from its own ancestral shrub that once grew in the center of the ring. Over time the original stem crown splits into sections that continue to grow outwardly away from the center, producing new branches along their outer edge. The center wood dies and rots away over thousands of years, leaving a barren center surrounded by a ring of shrubs”.  

The creosote bush is a very tough and aggressive plant, able to sustain in droughts and intense heat of the desert where I life.  The plant excretes volatile chemical comports, some have medical properties. When soils are not dampened, and slopes of the desert are well-drained into arroyos, this invasive species, the creosote bush (larrea tridentata, larrea divaricata  and hediondilia in Sonora; part of the Zygophyllaceae species family) takes roots. It has taken over the Chihuahuan Desert, of southern New Mexico, where I live. It is also called greasewood. Layers of caliche form in the hot deserts. C

Creosote is an aggressive competitor for water, and is winning, where I live. It grows from four to twelve feet high. The yellow green leaves are adapted to conserve water and dissipate heat ( Creosote secures more water, preening growth of native plants.  Creosote secrets lots of waxy resinous compounds, poisonous to livestock. On the plus side the compounds are used in defense against wood rats (who lose more water through their urine & feces, & get less energy from their food, increasing risks of dehydration & starvation). Creosote in the Chihuahuan, Sonoran and Mojave Deserts of North America ecosystems  vary in chromosome counts (Chihuahuan has 26, Sonoran has 52, and Sonoran has 78 chromosomes). It thrives in deserts under 5,000 feet.

Creosote orients its branches mostly to the southeast to minimize water loss in as sun moves west across the sky, and maximizing photosynthesis. The clustering branches reduces overheating, providing shade during hottest parts of the New Mexico day. As the sun rises in the east, creosote opens its stomata commence photosynthesis during early hours when evapotranspiration is at its lowest. Yes, the southeast orientation means it misses the afternoon and evening sun (see 

The roots of creosote run deep, accessing water table that the shallow rooted indigenous plants of semi-arid desert (e.g. grasses and the Prickly Pear cactus [Opuntia]) cannot. In limited rainfall, the shallowed rooted species cannot reach water taken up by the creosote. The granting architecture of creosote accumulates silt and debris as winds blow dust around the desert landscape. This results in elevated nutrients, shaded by the canopy of the bush. Rodents burrow into the ground beneath a large creosote shrub, and make their den, nibbling on any shallowly rooted plants that try to root under that canopy shade. At the same time the roots of the creosote (the tender bits) run so deep the rodents cannot get to theme. Rodents are therefore aiding the spread of the creosote by making it difficult for neighboring species to survive. 

Creosote reproduces from seeds and from rhizomes. The roots radiate out in a circle from the original plant, sprouting clones. On the plus side creosote provides seeds for food and flowers support myriad pollinators. Creosote gives the desert it’s distinctive delicious smell after a rain! On the downside, creosote secretes allopathic compounds that inhibit other plants from growing nearby? The roots and the dropped leaves emit chemicals that prevents self-growth and growth of other flora. Creosote blooms flowers that turn into small white fuzzy fruit with five seeds. 

On the plus side, creosote has been use as antiseptics and emetics by native indigenous peoples ( The lives contain a powerful antioxidant – NDGA ((nordihydroguaiaretic acid). It has been used to sure fever, colds, stomach pains, and is a general pain killer, diuretic, helps with arthritis, skin problems, urinary track problems, tuberculosis, cancer, anemia and is an anti-diarrheal, and is antimicrobial in helping cuts, bacterial or fungal infections, but no scientific evidence to date validates any of this and is not sold in Canada as a health product (; and A tea tastes terrible, and may actually in rare cases, promote kidney and liver dysfunction, even hepatitis.  The tea is made form creosote waxy leaves, stored in the sun, then pulverized and steeped in boiling water.  You can smoke the plant to combat infestations of desert midge.


Figure 13: Creosote Gall Midge (see 

The Seri of Mexico smoked insect galls among the foliage twigs of the larrea divaricata species for pleasure. Each midge species  indices a different gall midge fungal growth. “She inserts her egg along with a fungal spore from a mycangia (a small pocket to store fungal spores). A gall forms and the fungal mycelium grows to line the inside of the gall, when the egg hatches the developing larva feeds upon the fungus” (IBID.). Gagné and Warren (1990: 649) describe “Fifteen species of gall midges of the genus Asphondylia that form complex galls on leaves, stems or buds of creosote bush (Larrea tridentata)”.  

North American Papago used smoldering larrea tridentata creosote species  branches to treat sore feet (Pennacchio, Jefferson, & Havens, 2010: 114).  On the plus side chaparral is good for topical uses. Mexican herbalists use it to treat eczema and other skin conditions. You can make you own chaparral salves and lotions by steeping the leaves in hot water until you can smell it, then soak on a cloth and apply to affected area. 

Joy and Crespi (2007) study the speciation of Larrea gall midge insect adaptation to host-plants parts (leaf, stem, flower) of creosote. Midge species are highly host-plant specific, often feeding on just one part of the single host-plant species. Rains are seasonal in New Mexico. Gall badges have short adult lives of 1-2 days. “The different species in this group are sympatric over a broad area and widely distributed across the Mojave, Sonoran, and Chihuahuan deserts of North America, and up to 10 species having been collected from a single creosote bush” (IBID.).

Enter the Mesquite Tree 

Some parts of mesquite tree are toxic and can cause death. Other parts of mesquite are medicinal and a food source. There are several species (Velvet Mesquite [Prosopis velutina], Honey Mesquite [Prosopis glanulosa] & Screwbean Mesquite [Prosopis pubescens]). Mesquite tress are deciduous, with the potential to lose their leaves during dry times. Branches have thorns. Mesquite roots are within three feet of soil, but can go as deep as 160 feet ( Around southern New Mexico, the Honey Mesquite is common.


Figure 14: Honey Mesquite Tree

The seed pods are not toxic, high in fiber, but can cause gastrointestinal upstate if consumed in mass quantities. Mesquite beans can be harvest after they turn hard and golden. The pods of mesquite beans are sweet, a fructose that does not require insulin to be metabolized. You can chew on a a pod to test its sweetness ( 

Native indigenous people sprinkled ground mesquite meal with water to form small, round cakes, that were fried like mush, used to thicken stews or eaten raw. Mesquite meal is gluten free and makes a flat bread. Mesquite seeds are 35% protein, and pods have 25% fiber. Mesquite flour can be used to make a refreshing drink, and allowed to foment (mixed with meters) produces a fizzy alcoholic drink.

Mesquite flowers can be collected and boiled to make tea or roasted and pressed into ball as a food course.

Spa from mesquite trees can be boiled and diluted with water for eye wash antiseptic for open woulds, lip sores, chapped skin, sunburn lotion,  and to treat venarial disease (  Boiling the inner bark is used as a laxative and emetic. Mesquite tea from the leaves is good for headaches and stomach trouble, and to cure conjunctivitis and heal painful gums.

Mesquite wood was used as firewood, or for early blacksmithing. Prima Indians used mesquite black tar as a hair dye by covering the hair with the mud overnight. The resin from mesquite tree makes a glue to mend pottery, or when boiled and diluted, a paint for pottery. Inner bark of mesquite tree is used for basketry. Mesquite wood makes beautiful furniture. 


Boje, D. M. (2019a). Global Storytelling: There is No Planet B. Singapore/London/NY: World Scientific.

Boje, D. M. (2019b). Organizational Research: Storytelling In Action. London/NY: Routledge.

Boje, D. M. (2019c, in press). Storytelling Interventions in Global Water Crisis. Singapore/London/NY: World Scientific. Link to download Word file.

Boje, D. M.; Rosile, G. A. (2019, in review). Doing storytelling sciience with self-correction. Singapore/London/NY: World Scientific. Link to download Word file.

Gagné, R. J., & Waring, G. L. (1990). The Asphondylia (Cecidomyiidae: Diptera) of creosote bush (Larrea tridentata) in north America. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington, 92(4), 649-671.

Joy, J. B., & Crespi, B. J. (2007). Adaptive radiation of gall‐inducing insects within a single host‐plant species. Evolution: International Journal of Organic Evolution, 61(4), 784-795.

Pennacchio, M., Jefferson, L., & Havens, K. (2010). Uses and abuses of plant-derived smoke: Its ethnobotany as hallucinogen, perfume, incense, and medicine. Oxford University Press.