Current Event 8/11/12

The gas lamps characteristic of Berlin's streets are a large part of the city's cultural identity for some. But for others, they are merely an obstruction in the larger road of progress. Many Berliners are gathering together to protest the conversion of historic gas lamps into more energy and cost-efficient electric lights.
The motivation for the change is primarily economic: the city spends 23 million Euros annually on its streetlights, and says could cut down the price substantially by making the streetlights completely electric. The transition would also cut carbon emissions, a priority for the Berlin Department of Urban Development.
However, many people say that the historical and cultural significance of the lights trump economics and environmentalism. The lights have stood through both world wars, the Soviet era and other turmoils. They are, to some, a symbol of the might of the industrial revolution and human ingenuity, as well as the product Germany supplied to fuel the world: gas. While champions for the lights recognize the need for progress, they are adamant that Germany's culture and history must be saved. These two aspects of Germany--culture vs. progress--are an interesting debate. The organization advocating for the lights, Gaslight Culture, has said that their next step will be to request the lights to be declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


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