This is the sixth #HumansOfDukeSanford story of the semester. One story will be published weekly this fall.
"Before coming to Sanford, I was in the Peace Corps in Indonesia as an education volunteer. It was there that I saw how bad environmental problems are. I remember when I was hiking in the jungle with some friends, and all of a sudden, we came to a clearing. The whole side of the mountain had been razed. They cut all the trees down. My friend told me that this had been done on government territory. It was illegal and it was going to affect the local economies. This is one example of how if a government fails to fully value its natural capital, they’re not going to take that into consideration when they do cost-benefit analyses for developing its natural capital. I want to see how we can more fully account for that.
Here at Sanford, I'm focusing on environmental policy, specifically as it relates to climate change, I want to continue working on these interesting but challenging environmental problems. I’m not sure what kind of job I’m going to take – maybe federal government or consulting. I would say the biggest challenge regarding environmental policy right now is probably climate change. Coming to a legally binding international agreement moving forward is difficult. If we continue moving forward with business as usual, the average global temperature is going to increase and if it goes past 2 degrees Celsius, we’re going to reach a point of no return. We’ll be losing a specific amount of biodiversity, sea levels will increase, and certain public goods will be lost forever."—Matthew Borden Nuñez
Photography/Interview: Katherine M. Zhou / Edited by Joel Luther