The world is seeing increases in the frequency or intensity of a range of environmental extreme events. Furthermore, it is often those who are already vulnerable that experience the biggest impacts from these extremes. How will our society interact with and respond to future unprecedented extreme events?

I will try to answer this question by combining social science theories describing how different societal groups are affected by, and recover from, extreme events with numerical projections of unprecedented extreme events and local analyses of past extremes. Applications to severe flooding in North America and extreme droughts in Southern Africa illustrate how we can use this perspective to build storylines of unprecedented socio-environmental extremes.