As 2017 dawns, in a great many ways, modern industrial civilization has flung itself forward into a darkness where no stars offer guidance and no echoes tell what lies ahead. I suspect that when we look back at the end of this year, the predictable unfolding of ongoing trends will have to be weighed against sudden discontinuities that nobody anywhere saw coming. We’re not discussing the end of the world, of course; we’re talking events like those that can be found repeated many times in the histories of other failing civilizations. That said, my guess is that some of those discontinuities are going to be harsh ones. Those who brace themselves for serious trouble and reduce their vulnerabilities to a brittle and dysfunctional system will be more likely to come through in one piece.