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The modern industrialized world is a complex system on a scale never before witnessed in the history of humankind. Technologically dependent, globally interconnected, it offers seemingly limitless conveniences, choices, and opportunities. Yet this same modern civilization may be as unstable as a house of cards, fear complexity scientists like John Casti. All it would take to "downsize" our way of life is a nudge from what Casti calls an "X-event," an unpredictable occurrence with extreme, even dire, consequences. When an X-event strikes--and scientists believe one will--finance, communication, defense, and travel will stop dead in their tracks. The flow of food, electricity, medicine, and clean water will be disrupted for months, if not years. This book provides a tour of the catastrophic outlier scenarios that could quickly send us crashing back to the preindustrial age.--From publisher description.