I launched our Cloud Ridge ePostcard Blog in late March of 2020, as the unfolding tragedy of the COVID-19 pandemic encircled the globe in a shroud of sadness. With the help of our skilled webmaster, Clyde Lovett, I wanted to provide a respite from the daily news cycle with a much-needed reminder of the beautiful complexity of the natural world. As most of you realize, however, we are also faced with another sort of pandemic–global climate change and its profound repercussions.

Much of my professional career as a naturalist, science writer, and photographer has focused on finding ways to bridge the ever-widening divide between humans and the natural world. Cloud Ridge’s natural history exploration program, led over the past 40 years by a multidisciplinary group of science experts, provided more than 6,000 people with life-changing educational experiences from the Arctic to the Antarctic. These ePostcards are my way of sharing what we learned with a broader audience. Passing the milestone of 100 ePostcards now and thankful for your comments, I have several more years of subjects swirling in my mind!

With the exception of maps, archival image sources and guest photos, the majority of the photographs in these ePostcards are my own. I believe that photographs should tell a story, whether it is plant, animal or landscape. You’ll need to forgive a bit of anthropomorphism in my portrayals because I believe that humans, mammals, and birds often respond behaviorally to life events in similar ways—showing joy, grief, love, jealousy, anger and a range of emotions as diverse as our own. Debating whether nonhuman animals are capable of “consciousness, self-awareness, and empathy” misses the point and betrays our arrogance. Humans are animals. Observing these “humanlike behaviors” in other animals should remind us that we have far more evolutionary strands in common than we realize. To ignore this interconnectedness and our inherent role as environmental stewards is to risk bankrupting the natural world that all life depends on—including us.

Stay safe and well,

Audrey DeLella Benedict

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