Transcript: The Miraculous Maya Burhanpurkar | Jan 05, 2017

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, blue shirt, and purple tie.

A caption on screen reads "The miraculous Maya. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says ON THOSE DAYS WHEN YOU
ARE DEEPLY CONCERNED ABOUT THE
NEXT GENERATION AND THE FUTURE
OF OUR PLANET, IT MAY DO YOU
SOME GOOD TO THINK ABOUT MAYA
BURHANPURKAR.
MAYA IS A 17-YEAR-OLD HIGH
SCHOOL STUDENT.
BUT THAT BARELY BEGINS TO
DESCRIBE HER INTERESTS.
SHE'S A SCIENTIST, AN
ENTREPRENEUR, A VOLUNTEER, AND
WILL BEGIN THE NEXT SCHOOL YEAR
DOING HER UNDERGRAD STUDIES AT
HARVARD UNIVERSITY.
AND WE WELCOME MAYA BURHANPURKAR
TO "THE AGENDA."

Maya is in her teens, with long straight brown hair. She's wearing a red sleeveless dress and a bright blue pendant necklace.

Steve continues IT'S SO NICE TO MEET YOU.

Maya says IT'S A PLEASURE TO BE HERE.

Steve says LET'S FIND OUT A
LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOU BEFORE WE
FIND OUT ABOUT YOUR INTERESTS.
WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

Maya says I'M FROM
HORSESHOE VALLEY, A BIT NORTH OF
HERE.

Steve says AND YOUR PARENTS
FROM WHERE?

Maya says THEY'RE
ORIGINALLY FROM INDIA BUT HAVE
BEEN LIVING IN CANADA FOR QUITE
A WHILE NOW.

Steve says ANY BROTHERS AND
SISTERS?

Maya says NO.

Steve says ONLY YOU.
HOW NORMAL WOULD YOU DESCRIBE
YOUR CHILDHOOD AS?

Maya says I
THOUGHT IT WAS NORMAL.
I DON'T REALLY HAVE ANYTHING TO
COMPARE IT TO.

Steve says YOU WENT TO SCHOOL
WITH A BUNCH OF PEOPLE.

The caption changes to "Maya Burhanpurkar. Student Scientist."
Then, it changes again to "Growing up Maya."

Maya says THAT'S TRUE.
I THINK THAT MY INTERESTS SORT
OF WERE A BIT DIFFERENT THAN
OTHER PEOPLE, AND THAT SHAPED MY
CHILDHOOD.
SO I KNOW... I REMEMBER WITH MY
PARENTS, WE USED TO GO TO THE
LOCAL PUBLIC LIBRARY, AND THEY
WOULD ENCOURAGE ME TO GET
ANYTHING I WANTED, WHETHER THOSE
WERE DOCUMENTARIES OR DISNEY
PRINCESS MOVIES OR THE BIG
HUNGRY CATERPILLAR BOOKS, THOSE
KINDS OF THINGS.
I WOULD ALWAYS GRAVITATE TOWARDS
WATCHING DOCUMENTARIES ABOUT
SPACE AND THE UNIVERSE OR
READING NON-FICTION BOOKS.
I REMEMBER I USED TO BE ABLE TO
NAME EVERY SINGLE KIND OF
DINOSAUR.
I USED TO BE ABLE TO KNOW ALL
THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF DUMP
TRUCKS AND TRACTORS AND
CONSTRUCTION VEHICLES.
I THINK I SORT OF PEAKED AT
AROUND 6 YEARS OLD, ACTUALLY,
NOW THAT I THINK ABOUT IT.

Steve says DO YOU THINK YOU ARE
THAT WAY... YOU KNOW, WE LOVE
THIS NATURE VERSUS NURTURE DISCUSSION.
IS THAT JUST THE WAY YOUR DNA WORKS?

Maya says SO FROM
A SCIENTIFIC PERSPECTIVE, I
REALLY FEEL I SHOULDN'T ANSWER
THAT QUESTION BECAUSE I HAVE NO
IDEA.
BUT AT THE SAME TIME I
DEFINITELY THINK THAT YOU DON'T
NEED TO BE A GENIUS IN ANY WAY,
I GUESS GENETICALLY YOU DON'T
NEED TO BE A GENIUS TO BE ABLE
TO DO THESE KINDS OF THINGS.
I REALLY THINK THAT IT COMES
DOWN TO INTEREST AND PASSION AND
HARD WORK.
AND IF YOU HAVE THOSE THINGS,
THEN EVERYTHING ELSE WILL SORT
OF FALL INTO PLACE.

Steve says YOU GOT ELECTED AS A
STUDENT SCHOOL BOARD TRUSTEE?
WHICH BOARD?

Maya says THE SIMCOE
COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD.

Steve says AND WHAT DO YOU HAVE
TO DO TO BE THAT?

Maya says SO, YOU
HAVE TO BE NOMINATED FROM YOUR
SCHOOL, AND THEN AFTER THAT YOU
GO TO A BOARD WIDE ELECTION AND
THEN THERE ARE 3 PEOPLE WHO ARE
SELECTED FROM THAT PROCESS.

Steve says SO DID YOU ACTUALLY
RUN AND GET VOTES OR YOU GOT
PICKED?

Maya says YES, SO AT
MY SCHOOL I JUST GOT PICKED, BUT
THEN AFTER THAT I HAD TO RUN
AGAINST ALL OF THE OTHER
NOMINEES FROM THE OTHER HIGH
SCHOOLS.

Steve says AND YOU GO TO THE
TRUSTEE MEETINGS?

Maya says YEAH YEAH.

Steve says DO YOU GET A VOTE ON
COUNCIL?

Maya says NO, WE
ONLY GET INPUT. WE DON'T GET TO
VOTE. BUT I THINK THAT HAS A LOT
OF POWER TO BE ABLE TO SAY
THINGS.

Steve says I ALSO HEAR YOU WERE
A STUDENT ADVISOR TO THE
MINISTER OF EDUCATION.

Maya says I WAS IN
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.

Steve says WHO WAS THAT?

Maya says LAURA BROTEN.

Steve says CAN YOU RECALL
ADVICE SHE MAY HAVE TAKEN?

Maya says I LIKE
TO THINK SHE TOOK MY ADVICE.
THE CURRICULUM WENT OFF IN THAT
DIRECTION.
I LIKE TO THINK IT WAS ME, BUT
REALISTICALLY, IT PROBABLY
WASN'T.
ONE WAS INCREASING STUDENT
ENGAGEMENT BY REACHING OUT TO
RURAL COMMUNITIES, FOR EXAMPLE,
THE COMMUNITY THAT I'M FROM, AND
MAKING SURE THAT EVERYONE HAS
EQUAL ACCESS TO OPPORTUNITIES.
AND THE OTHER THING WAS MUCH
MORE SCIENCE-FOCUSED AND IT WAS
IMPROVING SCIENCE CURRICULUM BY
INTRODUCING MORE MODERN RESEARCH
AND MORE HANDS-ON LEARNING AND
THAT KIND OF THING.

Steve says NOW, WHEN YOU GIVE
THAT ADVICE TO A POLITICIAN WHO
IS TWICE OR THREE TIMES YOUR
AGE, DO THEY EVER SAY, MIND YOUR
OWN DAMN BUSINESS, KID, OR
ANYTHING LIKE THAT?

Maya says THANKFULLY I WAS A PART OF A
COHORT WITH, I BELIEVE, 60 OTHER
STUDENTS.
SHE WOULD HAVE HAD TO SAY THAT
TO EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US IF SHE
WANTED TO DO THAT.

Steve says AND SHE DIDN'T.

Maya says SHE DIDN'T.

Steve says JUST CONFIRMING.
MAYA, YOU PLAY THE PIANO, SKI,
SNOWBOARD, ALPINE HIKE, YOU PLAY
HOCKEY?

Maya says NO.

Steve says ALL THOSE OTHER
THINGS ARE VERY INTERESTING.
HOW DO YOU NOT PLAY HOCKEY?

Maya says I JUST
NEVER... I DID FIGURE SKATING
WHEN I WAS LITTLE.

Steve says THAT'S ON ICE.
THAT'S OKAY.
NOW, IT SAYS ON YOUR WEBSITE
THAT YOU WERE AWARDED A
UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO NATIONAL
SCHOLARSHIP, A T.D. NATIONAL
SCHOLARSHIP, AND A NATIONAL
SCHULICH SCHOLARSHIP AND
DECLINED THEM ALL?

Maya says I DID,
YEAH.

Steve says WHY?

The caption changes to "Maya Burhanpurkar, @Mburhanpurkar."

Maya says WELL, I
DECIDED IN THE END... THEY WERE
ALL FANTASTIC SCHOOLS.
CANADA HAS SO MANY AMAZING
OPPORTUNITIES TO OFFER.
BUT IN THE END I DECIDED TO GO
TO THE STATES WHERE THEY HAVE
MORE OF A LIBERAL ARTS
PHILOSOPHY THAN THEY DO HERE.
SO, FOR EXAMPLE, IF I WENT TO
SCHOOL HERE, I WOULD HAVE BEEN
STRAIGHT INTO COMPUTER
ENGINEERING ON DAY ONE,
BASICALLY.
WHEREAS IN AMERICA, THERE'S MORE
OPPORTUNITY IN YOUR FIRST AND
SECOND YEAR TO EXPLORE A WIDE
RANGE OF FIELDS.

Steve says IS THAT REALLY TRUE?
THERE ARE SO MANY GOOD LIBERAL
ARTS UNIVERSITIES HERE.
HOW CAN THAT BE TRUE?
I'M NOT MEANING TO SECOND GUESS
YOUR CHOICE.
OBVIOUSLY IT'S YOUR CHOICE.
YOU'RE GOING TO HARVARD.

Maya says I AM.

Steve says AND STUDY WHAT IN
FIRST YEAR?

Maya says I'M NOT
ENTIRELY SURE.
I'M LEANING TOWARDS DOING
COMPUTER SCIENCE ALONG THE WAY
AND ELECTRICAL COMPUTING.

Steve says HOLY TOLEDO.
YOU'RE THE ONLY PERSON THAT CAN
MAKE HEADS OR TAILS OF WHAT'S ON
THAT VIDEO BOARD RIGHT NOW.
I'M TELLING YOU.
I READ THAT YOU PROTOTYPED AN
INTELLIGENT ANTIBIOTIC AT THE
AGE OF 12.
LET'S GO THROUGH THAT.
WHAT'S THAT?

The caption changes to "Maya's discoveries."

Maya says ESSENTIALLY THE IDEA WAS THAT
CONVENTIONAL ANTIBIOTICS ARE A
BROAD SPECTRUM, WHICH MEANS THEY
KILL ALL BACTERIA, REGARDLESS OF
WHETHER IT'S GOOD OR BAD FOR
YOU.
THERE'S A LOT OF HEALTHFUL
BACTERIA IN YOUR BODY THAT WE
NEED TO FUNCTION.
THAT'S WHY WE END UP WITH SIDE
EFFECTS WHEN WE TAKE
CONVENTIONAL ANTIBIOTICS BECAUSE
THEY WIPE OUT THE GOOD STUFF.
WHEN I WAS LITTLE I THOUGHT
WOULDN'T IT BE NICE TO
ACCOMPLISH SOMETHING THAT WOULD
KILL THE BAD BACTERIA BUT NOT
THE GOOD BACTERIA, AND THAT WAS
THE BASIS FOR DEVELOPING THIS
INTELLIGENT ANTIBIOTIC.

Steve says YOU FIGURED THAT OUT?

Maya says I THINK
WHEN PEOPLE SAY I DEVELOPED AN
INTELLIGENT ANTIBIOTIC, IT
SOUNDS MORE COMPLICATED THAN IT
WAS.
THIS WAS A THREE-YEAR PROCESS
THAT STARTED WHEN I WAS IN GRADE
5 AND ENDED WHEN I WAS IN GRADE
7, AND ESSENTIALLY I STARTED OUT
WITH A... I DECIDED THAT I WAS
GOING TO MAKE THIS INTELLIGENT
ANTIBIOTIC.
WHAT I DID WAS I TOOK A POP CAN
COOLER AND I PUT AN ELECTRIC
HEATING BLANKET INSIDE OF IT.
THAT WAS GOING TO BE MY
INCUBATOR.
I THEN AS MY SOURCE TOOK A PIECE
OF RAW CHICKEN MY PARENTS WERE
COOKING FOR DINNER AND LEFT IT
ON THE DECK FOR FEW DAYS.
IT WAS VERY UNSAFE AND NO ONE
SHOULD DO THAT.
I DID IT AND DUMPED A BUNCH OF
HERBS I THOUGHT WOULD BE GOOD
ANTIBIOTIC AGENTS ACCORDING TO
TRADITIONAL INDIAN MEDICINE.
WHEN I OPENED THE COOLER UP A
FEW DAYS LATER, IT TURNS OUT
THERE WAS NO BACTERIA THERE AND
I THOUGHT, HOORAY, I FOUND AN
INTELLIGENT ANTIBIOTIC.
I TOOK THAT RESEARCH TO A LOCAL
SCIENCE FAIR AND PRESENTED IT.
THE JUDGE SAID, GOOD JOB, BUT
YOU REALIZE THE BACTERIA DIDN'T
DIE BECAUSE OF THE HERBS, THEY
DIED BECAUSE YOU SUFFOCATED
THEM.
[LAUGHTER]
SO I WAS BACK TO THE DRAWING
BOARD THE NEXT YEAR.
SO I IMPROVED MY METHOD
SLIGHTLY.
I GOT IN TOUCH WITH A LOCAL HIGH
SCHOOL SCIENCE TEACHER, WHICH
WAS REALLY SCARY BECAUSE I WAS
ONLY IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL AT THE
TIME AND I ASKED IF I COULD
BORROW AN ACTUAL INCUBATOR AND A
REAL PROBABLE PROPER BACTERIAL
SOURCE AND THAT KIND OF THING.
EVERY YEAR I KIND OF SLOWLY
IMPROVED MY METHODS UNTIL
FINALLY IN THAT VERY LAST YEAR I
DID SOMETHING USEFUL.
THERE WAS DEFINITELY STUMBLING
BLOCKS ALONG THE WAY.

Steve says IS THIS TO SAY AT
SOME POINT DOWN THE ROAD YOU MAY
ACTUALLY SELL THE PATENT TO A
BIG PHARMA COMPANY AND THIS WILL
BECOME A REAL THING?

Maya says I
CERTAINLY HOPE IT WOULD.
THAT WOULD BE THE GOAL.
AS IS THE CASE WITH MOST
BIOLOGICAL RESEARCH, IT TAKES A
LONG TIME FOR IT TO GET TO THAT
STAGE AND A LOT OF MONEY AS
WELL.
THAT WAS SOMETHING AS A
12-YEAR-OLD I WASN'T REALLY
CAPABLE OF DOING.
BUT I CERTAINLY HOPE SOMETHING
COMES OF IT IN THE FUTURE.

Steve says GOTCHA.
NEXT THING, YOU ARE CURRENTLY
LAUNCHING A TECH STARTUP THAT
LOSES LOW COST TELEPRESENCE
TECHNOLOGY TO DO WHAT?

Maya says SO
ESSENTIALLY THIS IS AN IDEA,
AGAIN, CHILD MAYA, I HAD A WHILE
AGO, AND THAT WAS THE IDEA,
WELL, DOCTORS BECOME DOCTORS
BECAUSE THEY CARE ABOUT HELPING
OTHER PEOPLE.
BUT THE PROBLEM WITH
ORGANIZATIONS LIKE THE RED CROSS
OR DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS IS
THAT IT'S REALLY HARD FOR
DOCTORS TO PACK UP FOR WEEKS OR
MONTHS AT A TIME, LEAVE THEIR
PRACTICES AND THEIR FAMILIES AND
GO TO A FOREIGN COUNTRY TO
RESPOND TO A DISASTER.
AND SO I WAS THINKING, WELL, WHY
DON'T WE JUST USE VIDEO
CONFERENCING TECHNOLOGY TO SOLVE
THIS PROBLEM AND ESSENTIALLY
CREATE THIS GLOBAL NETWORK OF
DOCTORS AND MEDICAL WORKERS WHO
ARE AVAILABLE 24-7 TO RESPOND TO
ANY DISASTER THAT MIGHT OCCUR.
SO I WAS TALKING TO SOMEONE AT
THE AFRICAN MEDICAL... OR THE...
AN ORGANIZATION IN AFRICA WHICH
IS ONE OF THE INTERNATIONAL
MEDICAL AID ORGANIZATIONS AND
SHE WAS SAYING THIS SOUNDS LIKE
A GREAT IDEA.
WE TRIED A LOT OF THINGS.
WE TRIED SKYPE AND FACETIME AND
THERE WERE A LOT OF ISSUES.
THEY WEREN'T OPERATING WELL
ENOUGH IN LOW BAND WIDTH
ENVIRONMENTS.
MY GRANDMOTHER LIVES IN INDIA
AND SHE CANNOT USE SKYPE.

Steve says SHE WOULD NOT FIGURE
THAT OUT.

Maya says I'VE
SHOWED IT TO HER SO MANY TIMES
WHENEVER I GO THERE, BUT SHE
STILL CAN'T DO IT BECAUSE THERE
ARE SO MANY BUTTONS TO PRESS.
I DECIDED THAT I WAS GOING TO,
WITH A COUPLE OF FRIENDS, CREATE
MY OWN VIDEO CONFERENCING
TECHNOLOGY THAT SPECIFICALLY
ADDRESSED THIS ISSUE.

Steve says AND YOU DID THAT?

Maya says YEAH,
YEAH.

Steve says WHAT DO YOU WANT TO
SEE THAT TURN INTO?

Maya says IDEALLY
IT WOULD BE WHAT I WAS TALKING
ABOUT EARLIER, THAT GLOBAL
NETWORK OF DOCTORS AND NURSES,
YOU CAN RESPOND TO ANY CRISIS AT
ANY TIME.

Steve says YOU THINK THAT CAN
HAPPEN?

Maya says I THINK
IT COULD HAPPEN.
I THINK THERE IS A LOT MORE
INFRASTRUCTURE AND LOGISTICS
THAT NEED TO BE ORGANIZED FIRST,
BUT WE'RE STARTING PILOT TRIALS
SOON, AND SO HOPEFULLY THAT WILL
GO WELL.

Steve says LET'S TALK ABOUT THE
STEM.
SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY,
ENGINEERING, MATHEMATICS.
FOR THE LONGEST TIME THIS WAS A
REALM OF BOYS ONLY AND GIRLS
WERE WELL BEHIND.
WHERE ARE WE AT NOW IN THAT?

The caption changes to "The STEM of the problem."

Maya says I THINK
WE'VE MADE A HUGE AMOUNT OF
PROGRESS.
JUST LOOKING AT ENROLMENT
STATISTICS, FOR EXAMPLE, IN
UNIVERSITIES, IT'S BEEN SHOWN
THAT GIRLS ARE CERTAINLY GETTING
MORE INVOLVED THAN BEFORE.
BUT THERE'S STILL A LOT OF WORK
TO BE DONE, OF COURSE.

Steve says SO WHEN YOU GO TO
HARVARD IN THE FALL, AND YOU'RE
OBVIOUSLY TAKING A COUPLE OF
THESE STEM AREAS OF DISCIPLINE,
WHAT PERCENTAGE OF THE CLASS
THAT YOU'RE ABOUT TO GO INTO
DO YOU THINK WILL BE FEMALE?

Maya says I DON'T
HAVE STATISTICS ON HAND, BUT I
KNOW NOT A LOT.

Steve says WOULD IT BE MORE THAN
10 PERCENT?

Maya says I THINK SO
I DON'T HAVE THE STATISTICS ON
HAND AS I SAID, BUT I THINK WITH
ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING I THINK
THERE ARE USUALLY AROUND 15-20
STUDENTS ---SINGLE DIGIT FEMALES
LOW SINGLE DIGITS.

Steve says TRUE OR FALSE, NOT
EVERYBODY IS HARDWIRED TO
UNDERSTAND THIS STUFF?

Maya says SO AGAIN
I WANT TO GIVE THE SCIENTIFIC
RESPONSE, WHICH IS I HAVE NO
IDEA SO I DON'T FEEL I CAN
ANSWER THE QUESTION. BUT AT THE
SAME TIME I THINK THAT FOR ME
I DON'T KNOW IF I DID HAVE SOME
SORT OF PREDISPOSITION OR
APTITUDE FOR THE SCIENCES PER
SE. I JUST KNOW THAT I WAS
ALWAYS REALLY INTERESTED IN
LEARNING THINGS AND ASKING
QUESTIONS AND THAT SORT OF LENT
ITSELF TO THE SCIENCES REALLY
NICELY, AND BECAUSE I WAS REALLY
ENTHUSIASTIC AND PASSIONATE
ABOUT IT, THAT MADE ME MORE
WILLING TO PUT IN THOSE LATE
NIGHTS STUDYING CALCULUS AND
PHYSICS AND ALL OF THESE
SUBJECTS THAT HAVE REALLY HARD
CONCEPTS WITHIN THEM. BUT
BECAUSE I WAS INTERESTED, I KEPT
ON PURSUING THEM.

Steve says MAYA, BECAUSE YOU'RE
ALREADY 17 AND HAVEN'T DONE VERY
MUCH WITH YOUR LIFE, WE WANT TO
POINT OUT HERE THAT YOU'VE GONE
UP NORTH.
YOU WENT TO THE CANADIAN AND
GREEN LANDIC ARCTIC TO WITNESS
CLIMATE CHANGE FIRSTHAND, AND
NOT ONLY THAT, BUT YOU MADE A
DOCUMENTARY ABOUT IT.
WE'RE GOING TO PLAY A LITTLE
SNIPPET OF THAT DOCUMENTARY
RIGHT NOW AND COME BACK AND
CHAT.
SHELDON, ROLL IT, PLEASE.

A clip plays on screen. The Earth rotates and a time-lapse clip shows Times Square in daytime.

Maya narrates ON MAY 2ND, 2013, JUST AFTER
NIGHTFALL, SCIENTIFIC
INSTRUMENTS ON AN ISLAND IN
HAWAII RECORDED CARBON DIOXIDE
LEVELS IN THE ATMOSPHERE AT 400
PARTS PER MILLION.
THE LAST TIME CARBON DIOXIDE
LEVELS WERE THIS HIGH,
HOMOSAPIENS DID NOT LIVE THERE.
IN FACT THE LAST TIME CARBON
DIOXIDE LEVELS WERE THIS HIGH
WAS MORE THAN 2.5 MILLION YEARS AGO.

Clips show a person walking up a mountain, and icebergs floating in the ocean.

Maya continues BACK THEN, LUSH FORESTS FILLED
THE CANADIAN ARCTIC INSTEAD OF
THESE ICEBERGS.
IT WAS A TIME WHEN THE LAND
BRIDGE CONNECTING NORTH AMERICA
HAD JUST RECENTLY FORMED.
AND NORTH AMERICA'S PRESENT
COASTLINES WERE SUBMERGED BY 5
LITRES OF SEA WATER.

The clip ends.

Steve says MAYA, WHEN DID YOU
GO THERE?

Maya says BACK IN
THE SUMMER OF 2013.

Steve says WHAT DID YOU SEE
THAT PARTICULARLY DISTURBED YOU?

The caption changes to "Maya Burhanpurkar. Director, '440 PPM.'"

Maya says SO I
THINK WHEN I WENT TO THE ARCTIC,
I WAS REALLY MOST EXCITED FROM A
KIND OF ECO TOURISM PERSPECTIVE.
I HAD NEVER SEEN ICEBERGS OR
POLAR BEARS OR ANYTHING LIKE
THAT AND I WAS REALLY EXCITED TO
HAVE THE CHANCE TO DO SO.
WHAT'S INTERESTING ABOUT THE
ARCTIC, COMPARED TO THE
ANTARCTIC PARTICULAR, THERE ARE
PEOPLE WHO ACTUALLY LIVE THERE.
AND WHAT REALLY BROKE MY HEART
WERE THE STORIES THOSE PEOPLE
HAD TO TELL.
SO, FOR EXAMPLE, ONE VILLAGE
THAT WE VISITED WITH AS A
FISHING COMMUNITY ON THE COAST
OF GREENLAND, AND THERE WERE
PEOPLE THERE WHO, BECAUSE OF
CLIMATE CHANGE, COULD NO LONGER
FISH.
THIS IS A COMMUNITY THAT WAS
BASED ALMOST ENTIRELY UPON
FISHING.
AND BECAUSE OF THAT, THEY HAD
COMPLETELY LOST THEIR
LIVELIHOODS AND THERE WERE
CHILDREN WHO WERE ACTUALLY
STARVING BECAUSE OF CLIMATE
CHANGE, THAT THEY DID ALMOST
NOTHING TO CAUSE.
AND THAT JUST SHOCKED ME.
I THINK THAT IN SCHOOL WE OFTEN
LEARN ABOUT STATISTICS, THAT
GLOBAL TEMPERATURES WILL RISE
"Y" DEGREES OR SEA LEVELS RISE
"X" NUMBER OF CENTIMETRES, BUT
WE DON'T LEARN THAT THERE ARE
REAL PEOPLE OUT THERE TODAY
BEING IMPACTED BY CLIMATE
CHANGE.
BECAUSE OF THAT, CLIMATE CHANGE
TO A LOT OF YOUNG PEOPLE, HAS
BECOME MORE OF A BUZZ WORD THAN
SOMETHING THAT NEEDS ACTION.
WHAT I REALLY WANTED TO DO WAS
TO BE ABLE TO SHARE THE STORIES
I WAS TOLD AND SHARE THE HUMAN
SIDE OF CLIMATE CHANGE IN THE
HOPES THAT WOULD MOBILIZE MY
GENERATION TO MAKE CHANGE.

Steve says YOU REFER TO 400
PARTS PER MILLION.
WHAT DOES THAT REFER TO?

Maya says AT THE
TIME THAT WAS MADE IT WAS
REFERRING TO THE MAY 2013 EVENT
WHERE CARBON DIOXIDE LEVELS WERE
AN OBSERVATORY IN HAWAII FIRST
REACHED 400 PARTS PER MILLION.
AS YOU KNOW RECENTLY WE HIT A
FAR MORE SCARY...

Steve says I PROBABLY DON'T KNOW.
DON'T ASSUME.
ANYWAY, KEEP GOING.

Maya says RECENTLY
WE HIT A SCARY LANDMARK,
GLOBALLY WE HAVE SURPASSED 400
PARTS PER MILLION IN CARBON
DIOXIDE LEVELS.
IT'S INTERESTING THAT THE NAME
OF MY DOCUMENTARY HAS TAKEN ON A
VERY DIFFERENT MEANING NOW.

Steve says IT'S CALLED 400 PPM.

Maya says YES.

Steve says YOU GOT CHRIS
HADFIELD, MARGARET ATWOOD, WADE
DAVIS, ALL IN THIS DOCUMENTARY.
HOW DID YOU GET THEM TO
PARTICIPATE?

Maya says A LOT OF
INTERESTING COINCIDENCES.
AT ONE POINT MY DAD WAS ON A
HIKING TRIP AND WADE DAVIS
HAPPENED TO BE THERE AND I WENT,
OH, MY GOODNESS, YOU HAVE TO
TALK TO HIM.
I REALLY WANT HIM TO BE IN MY
DOCUMENTARY AND HE WAS DOWN FOR
THAT.
ONE DAY WHEN HE WAS IN TORONTO,
I CORNERED HIM IN A HOTEL ROOM
FOR A COUPLE OF HOURS AND ASKED
HIM QUESTIONS.
AND THEN WITH MARGARET ATWOOD, I
HAPPENED TO BE SPEAKING AT A
CONFERENCE, A WRITERS CONFERENCE
THAT WAS GOING ON IN BARRIE, AND
I WAS GIVING A KEYNOTE ADDRESS
AND SO WAS SHE.
I WAS TALKING ABOUT CLIMATE
CHANGE AND I GUESS SHE WAS
INTERESTED IN WHAT I HAD TO SAY.
I ASKED HER TO BE A PART OF THE
DOCUMENTARY.
AND CHRIS HADFIELD I WAS TALKING
TO ABOUT SOME OTHER UNRELATED
AEROSPACE RESEARCH, AND I KNOW
THAT HE'S ALSO VERY ENTHUSIASTIC
ABOUT DOING SOMETHING ABOUT
CLIMATE CHANGE, AND SO I
EMAILED HIM AS WELL AND GOT HIM
ON BOARD WITH THAT.

Steve says I DON'T NECESSARILY
WANT TO DRAW YOU INTO A
POLITICAL DISCUSSION, BUT THE
REALITY IS THE UNITED STATES
OF AMERICA HAS JUST ELECTED A
MAN TO BE THEIR PRESIDENT WHO
BELIEVES THAT CLIMATE CHANGE IS
A HOAX INVENTED BY THE CHINESE
TO RENDER AMERICAN BUSINESSES
LESS COMPETITIVE. SO I WONDER
WHETHER YOU HAVE ANY THOUGHTS
ABOUT --- WELL--- ABOUT HOW WELL
WE'RE GOING TO TACKLE THIS
PROBLEM GOING FORWARD GIVEN THAT VIEW?

Maya says IT
DEFINITELY WASN'T THE RESULT
THAT I WAS HOPING FOR. I THINK
THAT IT'S HARD FOR ME TO
DEFINITIVELY SAY ANYTHING JUST
BECAUSE THE PRESIDENT ELECT
HE'S UNTESTED SO WE DON'T KNOW
HOW HE'LL RESPOND TO WHATEVER
COMES HIS WAY. BUT WHAT DOES
SCARE ME IS HOW LITTLE FACTS
HAVE INFORMED POLICY FOR HIM.
AND I THINK THAT THAT'S -...
WHEN YOU JUST BLATANTLY
DISREGARD WHAT THE OVERWHELMING
MAJORITY OF THE SCIENTIFIC
COMMUNITY IS SAYING IS HAPPENING
THAT'S EXTREMELY SCARY BECAUSE
WHEN YOU START APPLYING THAT,
NOT JUST TO CLIMATE CHANGE, BUT
TO ANY ISSUE, WHEN FACTS STOP
INFORMING POLICY, THEN POLICY
BECOMES USELESS.

Steve says I WANT TO ASK YOU
ONE LAST QUESTION WHICH IS GOING
TO SOUND INCREDIBLY PATRONIZING,
BUT I ASK EVERY TEENAGER THIS
QUESTION, SO DON'T TAKE IT THE
WRONG WAY.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU
GROW UP?

The caption changes to "Maya's future."

Maya says OH, MY GOODNESS.
I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA.
AS YOU CAN PROBABLY TELL FROM MY
BACKGROUND, I'M INTERESTED IN
ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING, WITHIN
THE REALM OF THE SCIENCES ALONE,
I'VE DONE WORK IN MICROBIOLOGY,
I'VE BEEN WORKING IN FUNDAMENTAL
PHYSICS AND ROBOTICS
ENGINEERING.
SO MY INTERESTS ARE DEFINITELY
ALL OVER THE PLACE.
AND THEN AS WELL, NOT JUST IN
SCIENCES BUT I REALLY LIKED
DOING MY WORK WITH THE MINISTRY
OF EDUCATION AND GUIDING SCIENCE
POLICY AND THAT KIND OF THING AS
WELL.
SO I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT
SPECIFICALLY I'M GOING TO END UP
DOING, BUT I THINK THAT IT WOULD
BE REALLY NICE TO BE HAVING SOME
SORT OF POSITIVE IMPACT ON THE
WORLD, WHETHER THAT'S THROUGH
POLICY OR ACTUAL RESEARCH I'M
DOING IN THE LAB.

Steve says ONE THING WE KNOW,
IT'S FOUR YEARS AT HARVARD.

Maya says YES.

Steve says YOU'LL NO DOUBT GO
FOR A MASTERS AFTER THAT.

Maya says YEAH.

Steve says AND A Ph.D.

Maya says YEAH.

Steve says PROBABLY THE NEXT
DECADE GOING TO UNIVERSITIES
SOMEWHERE IN THE WORLD, PROBABLY
NOT ALL OF THEM IN BOSTON
EITHER.

Maya says PROBABLY NOT.

The caption changes to "Producer: Steve Paikin, @spaikin."

Steve says MAYA, IT'S SO GREAT
TO MEET YOU.
WOW.
I FEEL SO MUCH BETTER ABOUT THE
FUTURE HAVING JUST TALKED TO
YOU.

Maya says OH,
THAT'S VERY NICE.

Steve says THANK YOU SO MUCH
FOR COMING IN TO TVO TONIGHT AND
SHARING YOUR VIEWS WITH US.

Maya says THANK
YOU SO MUCH FOR HAVING ME.

Steve says MAYA BURHANPURKAR.
THANKS, MAYA.

Watch: The Miraculous Maya Burhanpurkar