An extreme event (Xevent) is a rare incidence with potentially significant societal implications. While a specific Xevent has a low probability, due to the range of possible Xevents and due to a myriad of global networks acting as transmission paths, a small-open economy such as Finland experiences consequences of an Xevent quite frequently. The paradox thus is that everyone agrees that Xevents are possible and do happen but when the discussion moves to more specific Xevents, the consensus is that due to their rarity considering them is not worthwhile. Upon considering Xevents, we are easily captured by ‘a failure of the collective imagination of many bright people’.
The extreme events we have in mind tend to be systemic in nature. Their scope is often beyond any individual actor or organization within the society, which calls for emphasis on national-level action in preparing for them.
We insist on considering both positive and negative extreme events. Previous discussions have mostly touched upon the latter kind – for a good reason. It is simply a lot easier and quicker to destroy something than it is to build it – in part the X-ness of an event is related to its unfolding time.