Sunday, November 12, 2006

"A positive result of an unhappy memory"

A slightly odd perspective on a phenomenon seen from time to time. I don't know if RWE is a private-sector business or a government agency. Item appeared in "This Week in Germany", November 10, 2006, a publication of the German Information Center.

German Parents Garner Gifts from Blackout Baby Boom

While this weekend's power outage affected more people, other recent blackouts in Germany have had bigger consequences for energy customers. When 82 high-voltage towers collapsed under the weight of snow in Münsterland last November, 250,000 people had to live for days without heat or power during the winter storm.

Fertility agent? Fallen towers in the Münsterland region, Photo, dpa

Nine months later, maternity wards at local hospitals noticed a spike in the number of babies born. A coincidence? Gudrun Fahling of the civil registry in Steinfurt thinks not. "We have about 50 births a month," she told the N-TV in August. "This month, it will probably be 65. It's probably the power outage."

Hospital spokesperson Stephan Schonhoven, on the other hand, is skeptical. "I am very doubtful that the icy cold and lack of food really put anyone in the mood."

The more romantically inclined in Münsterland would prefer to imagine that the power outage did lead to at least a few candlelight conceptions. Not the least of these is RWE, the utility that owned the towers. The energy concern is now giving all the parents who conceived during the outage a gift of 300 euros ($385).

"People had a hard time," said RWE spokesperson Klaus Schultebraucks. "If more children are being born there now, then that is certainly a positive result of an unhappy memory."

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