A Crisis Looms
For centuries, the Miners of Gstan and Hstan have been extracting coal in the West Mountains as their main source of energy. But this coal will be used up within a generation. If societal changes are not made, a generation from now Gstan and Hstan citizens will find themselves incapable of the same prosperity that the current generation has experienced.
Even if the government of Gstan wants to, it cannot become proactive in solving this problem. It is too busy directing many of its resources into resolving problems that originate from the cultural rise of gambling in Gstan. “The Miners will find more coal,” says the Government of Gstan. Or they say, “Let the free market solve the problem.” But there is neither more coal nor a free market solution. The coal seams of the West Mountains have always been very accessible to the Miners, so coal has never been expensive. The price of energy will not go up enough to investigate new energy sources until the coal runs out — but this will be too late.
In contrast, the Hstan government already has experience in looking at least a generation down the road. It gives its citizens the truth: “The coal will run out, and we must find new sources of energy.” It embarks on a massive consultation with the citizenry. Because the citizens of Hstan trust their government, they take this warning seriously. Many ideas appear about how to best resolve this crisis, for example: a coal tax to encourage conservation and to fund research for alternative technology; developing “geographical centers of economic activity” that will use less energy, subsidizing Farmers, Makers, and Miners to adapt more efficient practices; and educating adults and children to expect less available energy in the future. Some ideas are implemented now, some later, and others not at all. As each idea is implemented, the government sets up a process to monitor how well each decision is working. They will be ready to modify or discard the original decision if needed — and learn from any mistakes.