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 https://davidboje.com/Gaia). 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” (https://www.cfr.org/report/global-climate-change-regime).

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” (https://theconversation.com/the-ethics-of-climate-change-what-we-owe-people-and-the-rest-of-the-planet-51785). 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” (https://www.cfr.org/report/global-climate-change-regime). 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” (https://www.cfr.org/report/global-climate-change-regime).

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).

References

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.