top of page

A Reflection on Our Collective Responsibility - Earth Day 2021

"Earth Day 2021 Poster" – Sofia Lammot Pérez

There are times in life and profession when incremental progress is the appropriate norm; when a series of small decisions and measured actions executed over time result in a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts. While the steady drumbeat of slow progress is, in aggregate, invaluable and enduring, now is not one of those times. We need to walk straight into Roosevelt’s arena. This is a time for risk taking and bold action on a scale that is only possible when movements and events converge to propel us forward uncomfortably. This is our story.

I acknowledge I’m writing this from a position of privilege in the context of vast social and environmental inequity. These facts serve as reminders of and a call to action for “both the power of our individual choices and our collective responsibilities,” as Maria Dias of the Surfrider Foundation recently wrote in a letter to the nonprofit’s constituents in recognition of Earth Day 2021.

In 1970, several years before I was born, two social movements and a pivotal event converged. The first movement was the public’s willingness to mobilize for action – a collective skill honed during the peace protests of the 1960’s. The second was a rapid and significant increase in the public’s awareness of the threat humanity posed on earth itself and the species that call it home, made clear by Rachel Carson in Silent Spring published in 1962. Then came the trigger in 1969 – a massive oil spill off the coast near Santa Barbara, California, not far from where I grew up. The result of the convergence was the first Earth Day, “a nationwide demonstration of concern for the environment so large that it would shake the political establishment out of its lethargy,” said Senator Nelson.

“In nature nothing exists alone.” ― Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

More recently, we are living a similar convergence of movements and pivotal events. First, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi created a Black-centered political will and movement building project called #BlackLivesMatter in 2013 following the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer. And second, a 15-year-old Swedish environmental activist, Greta Thunberg, began a school strike for climate action in 2018 that sparked a global, youth-led climate movement. Then came the trigger in 2019 – the COVID-19 outbreak became an epidemic became a global pandemic.

Then, and now, progress is paved with the stones of shared values morticed by an acknowledgement that climate and social justice are and will forever be inextricably linked. Which is why we, the thresholders, remain restless about the state of the world. To put it more bluntly, this is urgent – and we are all running out of time.

“In technology nothing exists alone.” – Dan Lammot, NetHope Puerto Rico 2019

I humbly share our story as a call to action - to do everything you can… and then do more. First, in honor of the climate and social activists who inspire us, we renew’s commitment to remaining carbon negative for the life of the company. In our opinion, this is the only way to responsibly do business. This year, we will more than offset our carbon emissions by partnering with three inspiring nonprofit organizations that operate internationally, nationally and locally:

  • International: TIST, an innovative, participant led reforestation program whose farmers improve their lives and create high-value carbon credits, and

  • National: The Surfrider Foundation, an organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s ocean, waves and beaches, for all people, through a powerful activist network.

  • Local: Riverbend Environmental Education Center, a Southeastern Pennsylvania nonprofit that teaches environmental principles to children through a direct connection with nature.

Second, our commitment is not enough. I ask all partners in the global Microsoft ecosystem to chart an accelerated path to net-zero emissions. Then, go further and remove your historical carbon emissions. Rachel Carson said, “In nature nothing exists alone.” Let us remember this ecosystem is built on trust and that “in technology nothing exists alone.”

And finally, on a personal note I have been educated and deeply inspired by the activism and resilience of youth around the globe. One of these individuals is an artist and Puerto Rican climate activist named Sofia Lammot Pérez. The following artwork is hers, and is worth sharing.

Thank you, Earth, for the privilege of calling you home. Happy Earth Day.

49 views0 comments


bottom of page