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CBSE Class 12 English Vistas Book Chapter 3 Journey to the end of the Earth Summary, Explanation with Video and Question Answers
Journey to the end of the Earth – CBSE Class 12 English English Vistas Book Lesson 3 Journey to the End of the Earth Summary and Detailed explanation of the lesson along with meanings of difficult words. Also, the explanation is followed by a Summary of the Lesson. All the exercises and Questions and Answers given at the back of the lessons have been covered. Also, Take Free Online MCQs Test for Class 12
Class 12 English (Vistas) Chapter 3 Journey to the end of the Earth
by Tishani Doshi
If you want to know more about the planet’s past, present and future, Antarctica is the place to go to. Bon Voyage!
Journey to the end of the Earth Introduction
The lesson revolves around the world’s most preserved place, Antarctica. Not many people have been there but out of the few that have, Tishani Doshi is one of them. A south Indian person who went on an expedition with a group of teenagers affiliated with ‘Students on Ice’ programme who takes young minds to different ends of the world. Thus, it gives an insight into how Antarctica is the place you should visit to have a glimpse of the past, present and the future in its realist form.
Journey to the end of the Earth Summary
For a south Indian man travelling to Antarctica from Madras, it takes nine time zones, six checkpoints, three water-bodies and just as many ecospheres to reach there. Tishani Doshi travelled to the Southern end of the Earth along with an expedition group named ‘Students on Ice’ that provides opportunity to the young minds to sensitise towards the realistic version of climatic changes happening in the world. According to the founder of the organisation, we are the young versions of future policy makers who can turn the situation around. Antarctica is one of the coldest, driest and windiest continent in the world. As far as the eyes can see, it is completely white and its uninterrupted blue horizon gives immense relief. It is shocking to believe that India and Antarctica were part of the same supercontinent Gondwana, that got segregated into countries giving rise to the globe we know today. Antarctica had a warmer climate until then. Despite human civilisation around the globe, it still remains in it pure form. Being a south Indian sun-worshipping guy, it was unimaginable for the author to visit the place that constitutes world’s 90 per cent of ice, a place so quiet that it is only interrupted by snow avalanches. It is a home to a lot of evidences that can give us a glimpse of the past and at the same time, Antarctica helps us foresee the future. The place gives an awakening to threatening alarm that global warming is actually real. Who knows if Antarctica will be warm again and even if it does, will we be alive to see it?
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Journey to the end of the Earth Lesson Explanation
EARLY this year, I found myself aboard a Russian research vessel — the Akademik Shokalskiy — heading towards the coldest, driest, windiest continent in the world: Antarctica. My journey began 13.09 degrees north of the Equator in Madras, and involved crossing nine time zones, six checkpoints, three bodies of water, and at least as many ecospheres.
Ecospheres- parts of the universe habitable by living organisms
In the beginning, the author talks about his journey to one of the coldest, driest and windiest continent on Earth; Antarctica. He went there on a Russian research vessel known as the Akademik Shokalskiy. The author is a South Inidan man who began his journey from Madras. On his voyage, he crossed nine time zones, six checkpoints, three water-bodies and just as many ecospheres.
By the time I actually set foot on the Antarctic continent I had been travelling over 100 hours in combination of a car, an aeroplane and a ship; so, my first emotion on facing Antarctica’s expansive white landscape and uninterrupted blue horizon was relief, followed up with an immediate and profound wonder. Wonder at its immensity, its isolation, but mainly at how there could ever have been a time when India and Antarctica were part of the same landmass.
Expansive- covering wide area in terms of space or scope; extensive
Profound- very great or intense
Landmass- a continent or other large body of land
It took him about 100 hours of combined travelling by car, aeroplane and then a ship to reach the continent. So, when he first set his feet on the continent, he felt utmost relief for it was all white as far as the eyes could see. The sight of the blue horizon was also very comforting. Next emotion that followed was that of wonderment. He was astonished by the fact that there was once a time when India and Antarctica were geographically connected.
Part of history
Six hundred and fifty million years ago, a giant amalgamated southern supercontinent — Gondwana — did indeed exist, centred roughly around the present-day Antarctica. Things were quite different then: humans hadn’t arrived on the global scene, and the climate was much warmer, hosting a huge variety of flora and fauna. For 500 million years
Gondwana thrived, but around the time when the dinosaurs were wiped out and the age of the mammals got under way, the landmass was forced to separate into countries, shaping the globe much as we know it today.
Amalgamated- combine or unite to form one structure
Supercontinent- a former large continent from which other continents are held to have broken off and drifted away
Thrived- prosper; flourish
Millions of years ago, there was a supercontinent known as Gondwana, from which Antarctica and India are supposed to have been parted off. The situation however was completely different from how it is right now. There were no humans and the climate was warmer which gave rise to huge varieties of flora and fauna. Gondwana flourished for 500 million years until dinosaurs got extinct and human beings came into existence. The huge continent was then forced into segregation to form countries and the world as we know of it today.
To visit Antarctica now is to be a part of that history; to get a grasp of where we’ve come from and where we could possibly be heading. It’s to understand the significance of Cordilleran folds and pre-Cambrian granite shields; ozone and carbon; evolution and extinction. When you think about all that can happen in a million years, it can get pretty mind-boggling. Imagine: India pushing northwards, jamming against Asia to buckle its crust and form the Himalayas; South America drifting off to join North America, opening up the Drake Passage to create a cold circumpolar current, keeping Antarctica frigid, desolate, and at the bottom of the world.
Cordilleran folds- an extensive chain of mountains or mountain ranges
Precambrian granite shields- large areas of relatively low elevation that forms part of continental masses
Mind-boggling- overwhelming; startling
Frigid- very cold in temperature
Desolate- (of a place) uninhabited and giving an impression of bleak emptiness
According to the author, if one wants to have a glimpse of history and from where we have originated along with where we are headed, Antarctica is the right place. It is the best place to research and understand about mountain ranges and low elevation continents, ozone and carbon, evolution and extinction. It is capable of giving an insight of the future and that can be really startling.
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For a sun-worshipping South Indian like myself, two weeks in a place where 90 percent of the Earth’s total ice volumes are stored is a chilling prospect (not just for circulatory and metabolic functions, but also for the imagination). It’s like walking into a giant ping-pong ball devoid of any human markers — no trees, billboards, buildings. You lose all earthly sense of perspective and time here. The visual scale ranges from the microscopic to the mighty: midges and mites to blue whales and icebergs as big as countries (the largest recorded was the size of Belgium). Days go on and on and on in surreal 24-hour austral summer light, and a ubiquitous silence, interrupted only by the occasional avalanche or calving ice sheet, consecrates the place. It’s an immersion that will force you to place yourself in the context of the earth’s geological history. And for humans, the prognosis isn’t good.
Surreal- unusual; bizzare
Austral- relating to the Southern Hemisphere
Ubiquitous- everywhere; pervasive
Calving- split and shed
Consecrates- make or declare sacred
Prognosis- a forecast of the likely outcome of a situation
It was a very different experience for the narrator as being a South Inidan sun-worshipping man, it was hard for him or anyone else to imagine living in a place where 90 percent of the Earth’s total ice volumes are stored. Not only biologically or physically difficult, but also for imagination. A place untouched by humans and their inventions, it gives an experience that makes you forget about all the other things. From small creatures like midges and mites to huge creatures like blue whales and icebergs as big as countries, everything can be found in Antarctica. Days are never ending with sun light all the time falling on the Southern Hemisphere. It is such a quiet place interrupted only by falling mass of snow rapidly down a mountain. It is a setting that forces you to ponder upon earth’s geological history and helps you foresee future which for humans, doesn’t seem very pleasant.
Human civilisations have been around for a paltry 12,000 years — barely a few seconds on the geological clock. In that short amount of time, we’ve managed to create quite a ruckus, etching our dominance over Nature with our villages, towns, cities, megacities. The rapid increase of human populations has left us battling with other species for limited resources, and the unmitigated burning of fossil fuels has now created a blanket of carbon dioxide around the world, which is slowly but surely increasing the average global temperature.
Paltry- petty; insignificant
Ruckus- a row or commotion
Human life on earth has been since petty 12,000 years which converts into a few seconds on the geological clock. In merely this less time, humans have managed to exploit each and every resource, thereby creating a chaos in the nature. The ever increasing human population is robbing other species of the necessities for survival. Not to forget about the unlimited exploitation of fossil fuels that have created a blanket of carbon dioxide around our planet which is further increasing the average global temperature, thus leading to global warming.
Climate change is one of the most hotly contested environmental debates of our time. Will the West Antarctic ice sheet melt entirely? Will the Gulf Stream ocean current be disrupted? Will it be the end of the world as we know it? Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, Antarctica is a crucial element in this debate — not just because it’s the only place in the world, which has never sustained a human population and therefore remains relatively ‘pristine’ in this respect; but more importantly, because it holds in its ice-cores half-million-year-old carbon records trapped in its layers of ice. If we want to study and examine the Earth’s past, present and future, Antarctica is the place to go.
Pristine- in its original condition; unspoilt
Global Warming and climate change are high priority concern these days. Questions like melting of Antarctic sheet, disruption of Gulf Stream ocean and how the world will end still remains unanswered. Regardless, Antarctica remains an important part, not only because it is untouched by humans, but also because of the ice-cores half-million-year-old carbon records trapped in its layers of ice. According to the author, if one wishes to study and analyse Earth’s past, present and future, Antarctica is the place to go.
Students on Ice, the programme I was working with on the Shokaskiy, aims to do exactly this by taking high school students to the ends of the world and providing them with inspiring educational opportunities which will help them foster a new understanding and respect for our planet. It’s been in operation for six years now, headed by Canadian Geoff Green, who got tired of carting celebrities and retired, rich, curiosity-seekers who could only ‘give’ back in a limited way. With Students on Ice, he offers the future generation of policy-makers a life-changing experience at an age when they’re ready to absorb, learn, and most importantly, act.
The author has been in Antarctica on an expedition with ‘Students on Ice’, a programme that takes young minds to the ends of the world which helps in inspiring them to work towards our planet. It was started with the vision of providing life-changing experiences to ‘the future generation of policy-makers’ to learn about the planet at a very early age. The initiative was introduced by Geoff Green who got tired of his regular job once he got rich and wanted to give it back in some way.
The reason the programme has been so successful is because it’s impossible to go anywhere near the South Pole and not be affected by it. It’s easy to be blasé about polar ice-caps melting while sitting in the comfort zone of our respective latitude and longitude, but when you can visibly see glaciers retreating and ice shelves collapsing, you begin to realise that the threat of global warming is very real.
Blasé- unimpressed with or indifferent to something because one has experienced or seen it so often before
The programme has been immensely successful in implementing its vision by the way people get affected by seeing the real scenario because it is very easy to sit at home and talk about real issues, but actually seeing glaciers retreating and ice shelves collapsing, it gives you a glimpse into the future. It tells you that the very threat of global warming is real.
Antarctica, because of her simple ecosystem and lack of biodiversity, is the perfect place to study how little changes in the environment can have big repercussions. Take the microscopic phytoplankton — those grasses of the sea that nourish and sustain the entire Southern Ocean’s food chain. These single-celled plants use the sun’s energy to assimilate carbon and synthesise organic compounds in that wondrous and most important of processes called photosynthesis. Scientists warn that a further depletion in the ozone layer will affect the activities of phytoplankton, which in turn will affect the lives of all the marine animals and birds of the region, and the global carbon cycle. In the parable of the phytoplankton, there is a great metaphor for existence: take care of the small things and the big things will fall into place.
It is one of those places with limited biodiversity and thus, has a less complicated ecosystem. As a result, little changes in its environment can have drastic effects. For instance, the microscopic phytoplankton are grasses of the sea that sustains the entire Southern Ocean’s food chain. Now, it has been recently concluded by scientists that a further depletion in the ozone layer can affect the activities of these single-celled plants and affect the marine life altogether. Thus, in this case, the saying comes true, “Take care of the small things and the big things will fall into place.”
Walk on the Ocean
My Antarctic experience was full of such epiphanies, but the best occurred just short of the Antarctic Circle at 65.55 degrees south. The Shokalskiy had managed to wedge herself into a thick white stretch of ice between the peninsula and Tadpole Island which was preventing us from going any further. The Captain decided we were going to turn around and head back north, but before we did, we were all instructed to climb down the gangplank and walk on the ocean. So there we were, all 52 of us, kitted out in Gore-Tex and glares, walking on a stark whiteness that seemed to spread out forever. Underneath our feet was a metre-thick ice pack, and underneath that, 180 metres of living, breathing, salt water. In the periphery Crabeater seals were stretching and sunning themselves on ice floes much like stray dogs will do under the shade of a banyan tree. It was nothing short of a revelation: everything does indeed connect.
Nine time zones, six checkpoints, three bodies of water and many ecospheres later, I was still wondering about the beauty of balance in play on our planet. How would it be if Antarctica were to become the warm place that it once used to be? Will we be around to see it, or would we have gone the way of the dinosaurs, mammoths and woolly rhinos? Who’s to say? But after spending two weeks with a bunch of teenagers who still have the idealism to save the world, all I can say is that a lot can happen in a million years, but what a difference a day makes!
For all it took for him to travel from Madras to Antarctica, the nine time zones, checkpoints and various bodies of water, the author pondered upon the capability of nature to maintain its balance. He wondered what it would be like if Antarctica, the place that houses over 90 percent of world’s ice, becomes warm again. He wonders if we will be there to see it if it ever happens but who knows! Thus, by seeing the spirit of teenagers who still are left with the courage to save the world, he talks about the uncertainty of events that can happen over a million years.
Journey to the end of the Earth Question Answers
Reading with Insight
1. ‘The world’s geological history is trapped in Antarctica.’ How is the study of this region useful to us?
A. The goelogical phenomena of separation of the landmass into various continents and water bodies almost six hundred and fifty million years ago marks the beginning of the human race on the Earth. Mammals started existing after dinosaurs became extinct which happened once the landmas separated.
2. What are Geoff Green’s reasons for including high school students in the Students on Ice expedition?
A. Geoff Green took high school students on an expedition to one end of the Earth to make them realize the impact that human intervention could have on nature. He wanted the future policy – makers to experience how difficult it would be to sustain life with the rising temperatures. He wanted them to see the melting ice shelves so that they could estimate the trouble that mankind was headed to.
3. ‘Take care of the small things and the big things will take care of themselves.’ What is the relevance of this statement in the context of the Antarctic environment?
A. The staement holds great importance in context of the Antarctic environment. For instance, the phytoplanktons in the region serve as food for marine birds and animals. The depletion of the ozone layer affects the phytoplanktons and the carbon cycle. This can obstruct the existence of marine life. So, if the process carried on by these small grasses is taken care of, the processes of the bigger animals and birds can be taken care of.
4. Why is Antarctica the place to go to, to understand the earth’s present, past and future?
A. Antarctica is the place to go to to understand the earth’s past, present and future because it gives us an idea of how the earth was millions of years ago. The melting sheets of ice give us an idea of the future also.
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