Pope Benedict XVIIDec. 25, 1932:  A magnitude 7.6 earthquake hits Gansu in north central China, killing an estimated 70,000 people.

Dec. 25, 2003:  Sixteen campers die in California’s San Bernadino Mountains as a mudslide buries their campsites. The mountainsides had been stripped of vegetation months before by wildfires, and then steady rains loosened the slopes and engulfed the campers.

Dec. 25, 2007:  In his annual Christmas message, Pope Benedict XVII (at right, in Brazil) speaks on the environment, decrying the global “abuse of energy and its selfish and reckless exploitation.”

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

This feature is compiled by Peter Dykstra, an MNN contributor and publisher of Environmental Health News and The Daily Climate.