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Environmentalist, explorer and adventurer. Mike Horn is a special man. He achieved worldwide recognition for his unique projects and his commitment for a greener future. Mercedes-Benz is partner and main sponsor of Mike Horn’s four-year PANGAEA Expedition. We met him on January 29th 2011 and asked him a few questions about his projects and his relationship to Mercedes-Benz.
Mike, a few weeks ago you stayed in the Gobi Desert. Now you’re here in Stuttgart. We have temperatures below zero. You love the extremes, right?
I think life without extremes is not worth living. You have to step out of your comfort zone to discover new things – that’s what live is all about for me. A lot of people prefer to stay in their little fishpond swimming around in circles but in that fishpond you cannot develop yourself further. Only in the moment you step in the extreme conditions in any part of live – is it music, or art, engineering or journalism – you discover who you really are. And you can learn from these discoveries to progress in live.
What are the goals of your expeditions?
When I started my first expeditions as a solo explorer my goal was to gather knowledge and experiences and to get myself known a little bit better. And these expeditions told me to step out and to confront my problems instead of running away because it seems to be too difficult. A lot of us wish that live was easier and that there are less obstacles. But life isn’t easy, it is difficult. But if you better yourself you can make it much easier – and you can achieve goals no man ever achieved before.
This evening here in Stuttgart we celebrate the 125 years of automobile and pioneer engineering. Where do you see the parallels to Mercedes?
Mercedes-Benz is a pioneer in making automobiles. And having these cars around us all over the world for 125 years shows that they did it in the right way. Maybe it’s a little bigheaded to say, but I see myself as well a pioneer of exploration that has 25 years of exploration knowledge that has helped me to survived going up to 8.000 meters or swimming down the Amazon. I’m here to achieve these things like Mercedes-Benz wants to design good cars. They want to improve whatever benefits the environment in creating new technologies like the fuel cell or the e-cell cars. That is the same what I do in exploration. In this point the philosophy of knowing more and reaching your goals is exactly the same.
I’m sure you heard about the F-CELL World Drive. For this tour we have the technology. But what is still missing is the infrastructure. What do you think about electric mobility in the future?
If you take a look on the fuel cell or e-cell you see that the technology exists. But I think we should stop pointing fingers at Mercedes-Benz or other car manufactures and asking them what are they doing to better the CO2 emission. Why don’t we point a finger at ourselves and ask ourselves what are we going to do? I think people have to put their hands in their pockets to buy greener technology and to supply an infrastructure so we can put these cars on the road. I think the question that we have to ask ourselves is: “Are you ready to pay a little bit more for the world to exist much longer?” We are always asking other people what to do. Mercedes-Benz has done its part. But we haven’t done ours.
Through my expedition I try to educate the younger generation that the time has come to change. When we have the Mercedes-Benz driving experience with the young explorers you expose the young people to the most modern technology that exists today on the road. You change their mind. After 25 years of exploration seeing things that not a lot of people have seen I can say: we have to start changing now or maybe yesterday.
Many of our followers from the Daimler-Blog now want to know: How can we be a part of it? How can we get in contact with you and be part of the tour?
I think what is important is that it’s very easy to get in contact with us through the Mercedes-Benz Pangea, Facebook or Mike Horn website. Today we’re creating projects all around the world. Our expedition has grown up to such a dimension and maybe it is the biggest environmental expedition in the world for young people.
You are also the father of two children. Is this the motivation for you to accelerate ideas for a better green world in the future?
I think the responsibility I have for my children is to give them something they are proud of. And I don’t mean a bicycle or iPhone or a computer. It’s to give them something that I would like to receive, too: a better world. I received from my father an earth that was intact 45 years ago. If I want to give the same earth back to my children I have to start doing something today.
Thank you very much! Do you have some final words to say?
I would like to leave a message that is pretty simple: It’s up to us! It’s up to all of us, to make a difference. And if you can make a small difference, a lot of small differences will make one massive difference that can make our future generations appreciate our world like we’ve seen it when I was younger.