Pope reiterates environmental protection

In his annual address to diplomats accredited to the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI restated his stance on the need for greater protection of the environment, Catholic News Services reported today.

"Environmental protection and the connection between fighting poverty and fighting climate change are important areas for the promotion of integral human development," he said.

According the CNS, the pope cited the environmental disasters of 2011 - like the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan - as reasons to continue to urge government leaders from across the world to act on threats to climate and the environment.

World leaders are next set to meet June 20-22 in Rio De Janiero, Brazil, for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.

In other environmental news:

New regulations from the Department of Interior will prevent new mining and mineral exploration (including uranium) at the Grand Canyon for 20 years, a welcome ban by supporters who feared mining would disrupt the canyon's majesty, the quality of water provided by the Colorado River and Native American sacred sites. [Sierraclub.org]

South Florida counties are taking steps to "adapt early" to potential rising water levels by constructing a comprehensive plan for the southeast region of the state, reports the Orlando Sentinel. The plan includes redesigning low-lying bridges and roads, restricting development in vulnerable areas and acquiring land to use as buffer zones. [Orandlosentinel.com]

Following 2010's record snowfall in the Rockies, Colorado skiers are finding historically dry slopes this year. Rob Katz, CEO of Vail Resorts, is quoted in the Colorado Indepenent article, saying "for the first time since the late 1800s, it did not snow at all in Tahoe in December.” [Coloradoindependent.com]

Msgr. Charles Pope of the Archdiocese of Washington reflects on the starry sky scenes the three wise men must have seen as they made their way to Bethlehem, wondering if today's city dwellers will ever have a chance to gaze upon the same awesome skies. [Blog.adw.org]