In the final episode of Modern Explorers, a CNN series featuring the world’s most renowned adventurers, Swiss aviator Bertrand Piccard examines the role of today’s modern breed of explorers and the legacy of those that came before them.
Exploration runs in Bertrand Piccard’s blood. His grandfather Augustus Piccard became the first man ever to gaze down on the curvature of the earth in 1931, while his father, Jacques, explored the ocean’s depths. Bertrand himself became the first person to orbit the planet by balloon, before repeating the feat using a plane powered by the sun.
CNN joins Piccard as he visits the Leman Museum on Lake Geneva in Switzerland, to tour an exhibition that honors the accomplishments of three generations of his family before reflecting on what the terms mean in 2020.
“A modern explorer today is not on the planet to discover new territories because we know all the territory, all the continents, even the moon,” Piccard explains. “Now, I think the modern explorer has the task to improve quality of life on earth, to inspire respect for nature, to inspire respect for human beings.”
Following his adventures in a solar-powered plane, Piccard became a staunch supporter of using clean technology. He takes CNN to the 4th Solar Impulse Expert Challenge in Munich, Germany, where he meets with the innovators bringing novel, sustainable solutions from all corners of the globe.
Piccard explains his passion for clean energy and his mission to persuade world leaders that thinking about the environment is logical and profitable, something that he believes could be his hardest challenge yet:
“I was told that flying around the world nonstop in the balloon was impossible, and I did it. I was told that flying around the world in a solar-powered airplane was impossible, and I did it. Now I’m saying that we can have a clean world with new clean technologies, and I hear people who tell me it’s impossible. So maybe it’s my biggest challenge, but I will never die without showing that it is possible.”