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Robert D. Bullard, Texas Southern University

The Quest for Environmental and Climate Justice in the United States

Robert Bullard.Climate change is the defining global environmental justice, human rights, and public health issue of the twenty-first century. The most vulnerable populations in the United States and around the world will suffer the earliest and most damaging setbacks because of where they live, their limited income and economic means, and their lack of access to health care. Climate-sensitive hazards are forecast to increase in the coming years. However, not all of the populations residing within these hazard zones have the same capacity to prepare for, respond to, cope with, and rebound from disaster events. Having worked with New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina and witnessed firsthand Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Professor Robert D. Bullard will, in his presentation, focus primarily on the U.S. and the need for empowering vulnerable populations, identifying environmental justice and climate change “hot-spot” zones, and designing fair, just, and effective adaptation, mitigation, emergency management, and community resilience and disaster recovery strategies. He will also discuss his book, The Wrong Complexion for Protection, which analyzes more than eight decades of differential government response to natural and human-made disasters. Finally, Dr. Bullard will offer strategies to dismantle institutional policies and practices that create, exacerbate, and perpetuate inequality and vulnerability before and after disasters strike.

Dr. Robert D. Bullard is the Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning and Environmental Policy and Director of the Bullard Center for Environmental & Climate Justice at Texas Southern University in Houston. He was an expert witness on the 1979 Bean v. Southwestern Waste Management Corp. case, the first lawsuit to challenge environmental racism using civil rights law. Dr. Bullard, who is often called the “father of environmental justice,” is the co-founder of the HBCU Climate Change Consortium and National Black Environmental Justice Network, and the author of 18 books. His Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class and Environmental Quality introduced many readers to the field of environmental justice. In addition to being named one of the “13 Environmental Leaders of the Century” by Newsweek, Dr. Bullard has been the recipient of notable awards that include the Sierra Club’s John Muir Award, where a new environmental justice award was named in his honor. He has been named by Apolitical as one of the world’s 100 most influential people, and as one of 22 Climate Trailblazers by the Global Climate Action Summit. Dr. Bullard has been presented with the Stephen H. Schneider Award for Outstanding Climate Science Communication by Climate One and hailed as a Health Heroes Trailblazers by WebMD. He was bestowed the honor of the United Nations Environment Program’s Champions of the Earth Lifetime Leadership Award and more recently, Dr. Bullard has been selected to join the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He continues to address the struggles in frontline and fence-line communities where more work is needed to secure environmental and climate justice for all.