Extra Questions, Notes, Assignment and study material for Class 12th as Per CBSE Syllabus
Journey to the End of the Earth Extra Question Answer English
By – Tishani Doshi
Introduction of the lesson- Journey to the End of the Earth
Tishani Doshi is an Indian poet, journalist, and dancer based in Chennai. She received an Eric Gregory Award in 2001. Her first collection Countries of the Body won the 2006 Forward Poetry Prize for the best first collection. Here, she recalls her enthralling experience in Antarctica. Her emotions range from relief to profound wonder.
Short and Simple Summary of the Journey to the End of the Earth/ Summary in simple Words/ Critical appreciation of the lesson – Journey to the End of the Earth
The writer describes her experience of visiting Antarctica on a Russian research vessel, the Akademik Shokalskly. On this large watercraft, they set out towards Antarctica which is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent in the world. They began their journey 13.09 degrees north of the Equator, in Chennai. Reaching Antarctica meant crossing nine time zones, six checkpoints, three bodies of water, and many ecospheres.
It took them about 100 hours of travel time. This travel was a combination of cars, aeroplane, and ships. Her first emotion on facing Antarctica’s vast white landscape and the clear blue sky was a relief, but she was soon wonderstruck. She marveled at its vastness and seclusion, but most of all at the fact that at one point of time, India and Antarctica had been part of the same landmass.
Part of history
Six hundred and fifty million years ago, Antarctica was part of an enormous tropical landmass called Gondwana, when humans hadn’t arrived on the face of the earth. The climate had been much warmer and there was a huge variety of flora and fauna. Gondwana flourished for 500 million years, but around the time when the dinosaurs were wiped out and the age of the mammals progressed, this landmass was forced to separate into countries much as we know them today.
Visiting Antarctica reveals to us that history. It also makes known where we have come from and the direction in which we are moving. Antarctica embodies all that is prehistory. It helps us understand cordilleran folds, pre-Cambrian granite shields, ozone and carbon, evolution, and extinction. Such drastic changes in about a million years can be overwhelming. The very thought of India pushing northwards, jamming against Asia, and forming the fold mountains—the Himalayas; South America drifting off to join North America, opening up the Drake Passage to create a circumpolar current, leaving Antarctica frigid, desolate, and at the bottom of the world is awe-inspiring.
For the writer who belongs to a much hotter region, two weeks in a place where 90 percent of the Earth’s total ice volumes are stored was an unsettling prospect—both physically and mentally.
Moreover, it was devoid of any indication of human life. It had no trees, billboards, or buildings. Hence one could lose all earthly sense of perception and time. However, the size of things ranged from the minutest to the loftiest as there are tiny insects as well as blue whales and icebergs as big as countries. In summers, the sun does not set for six months, hence, the days are never-ending. The place seems to be sanctified by an omnipresent silence, which is sometimes interrupted by an avalanche or the splitting of an ice sheet. This captivating site forces people to place themselves in the perspective of the earth’s geological history. But for humans, the forecast isn’t good.
Humans have existed for merely 12,000 years. This period is insignificant on the geological clock. Ironically, in this brief period, humans have destroyed nature by concretizing it. The rapidly increasing human population has left us battling with other species for limited resources. The unlimited burning of fossil fuels has created a blanket of carbon dioxide that has increased the global temperature.
The increasing temperature has thrown up various concerns such as its effect on West Antarctica, on the Gulf Stream ocean current, etc. But, Antarctica is a crucial element in this debate—not only because it has never had a human population but because it has half-million-year-old carbon records trapped in its layers of ice.
The program ‘Students on Ice’ aims to take high school students to the polar ends of the world and expose them to a place that would help give them a new understanding and respect for our planet. This effort is headed by a Canadian adventure-educator Geoff Green. He has been leading these expeditions and adventures for the last six years. Taking high school students, he feels, is more fruitful as they are the future generations of policy-makers and are ready to absorb, learn, and most importantly, act.
The success of this program lies in the fact that all who go to the South Pole are deeply affected by it. On watching glaciers retreating and ice shelves collapsing one begins to realize that the threat of global warming is very real. This apart, because of the simple ecosystem and lack of biodiversity, Antarctica is the perfect place to study the effects of the changes in the environment.
It is an amazing world where the tiny phytoplankton through photosynthesis nurtures the entire Southern Ocean’s food chain. 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. This story of the tiny phytoplankton teaches a lofty lesson: take care of the small things and the big things will fall into place.
Walk on the ocean
The writer’s experience there was full of such revelations, but the best was just before the Antarctic Circle at 65.55 degrees south. The ship was stuck in the ice between the peninsula and Tadpole Island. The Captain decided to turn back north, but before they did, the passengers were asked to climb down and walk on the ocean. As fifty-two of them walked on the seemingly unending meter-thick ice sheet they realized that underneath that there were 180 meters of living, breathing, saltwater. On the sides, they saw the Crabeater seals stretching and sunning themselves as stray dogs do under the shade of a banyan tree. There was indeed a thread that connected everything.
Reaching home the writer wondered if Antarctica would become the warm place that it once used to him and whether humans would be extinct by then. It was difficult to say. But after spending two weeks with a bunch of teenagers who still had the idealism to save the world, she felt that a lot could happen in a million years, but it was each day that made a difference.
Important Long/ Detailed Answer Type Questions- to be answered in about 100 -150 words each
1.How does the writer, Tishani Doshi, create a sense of distance between the rest of the world and Antarctica?
Ans:- The writer set out on a Russian research vessel, the Akademik Shokalskiy, for the coldest, driest, windiest continent in the world: Antarctica. She says that her journey involved crossing nine time zones, six checkpoints, three bodies of water, and at least as many ecospheres.
To travel to the Antarctic continent, she had to travel over 100 hours in a combination of a car, aeroplane, and ship. The vast white landscape and endless blue horizon were unlike what the writer had ever seen. The emotion was that of profound wonder. The enormity of the difference and the isolation made her doubt if there could ever have been a time when India and Antarctica were part of the same landmass. She also wondered at the geological changes that conspired to create a cold circumpolar current, keeping Antarctica frigid, desolate, and at the bottom of the world.
2. Write a note on the Russian ship, Akademik Shokalskiy.
Ans:- Akademik Shokalskiy is the sister ship to Professor Multanovskiy, that Professor Molchanov built in Finland, in 1982/83 for polar and oceanographic research. Continuously refurbished since their conversion to passenger use, they are ideally suited for expedition cruising. They carry about fifty passengers in comfortable twin and triple cabins, some with private facilities. Each cabin has a window, a writing desk, and ample storage space. The public areas include a lounge, a well-stocked bar, a library, a sauna and a dining room. Views are excellent from the large open decks.
The ships maintain an ‘Open Bridge’ policy, which means that passengers are almost always welcome, weather permitting, to visit the bridge at any time. Designed to explore some of the remotest corners in the world, they are equipped with passive stabilizers and have sophisticated communication and navigation equipment. They are crewed by Russian officers and the crew is highly experienced in ice navigation. They’re joined by expedition staff and lecturers—internationally renowned experts on marine mammals, birds, the history of polar exploration, and polar geology.
3. What does the writer say about the geological history of Antarctica?
Ans:- Six hundred and fifty million years ago, Antarctica was the center of a ‘supercontinent’ called Gondwana (originally Gondwanaland) and included most of the Landmasses in today’s southern hemisphere, including Antarctica, South America, Africa, Madagascar, Australia-New Guinea, and New Zealand, as well as Arabia and the Indian subcontinent, which are in the northern hemisphere. The name is derived from the Gondwana region of India.
This was before the humans arrived on earth. The climate was much warmer and a variety of flora and fauna thrived. This way Gondwana flourished for 500 million years, but around the time when the dinosaurs were wiped out and the age of the mammals set in, the landmass separated into countries, more or less as we see today.
The breakup of Gondwana started the episode of a continental drift that separated Africa from South America and formed the South Atlantic Ocean. At the same time, the Indian subcontinent started moving north, heading for Asia and the eventual uplift of the Himalayas while Antarctica moved southward. Rocks and fossils also confirmed that Antarctica was once connected to these regions and that it was much warmer and wetter in the distant past.
4.’To visit Antarctica now is … to get a grasp of where we’ve come from and where we could be heading.’ Justify.
Ans:- Visiting Antarctica forces one to think about all that can happen in a million years. The complex changes force one to think about the future of the world. Only 650 million years ago, Antarctica was the center of a ‘supercontinent’ called Gondwana that included most of the landmasses in today’s southern hemisphere. The climate then was much warmer, and a variety of flora and fauna thrived. It was around the time when the dinosaurs were wiped out and the age of the mammals set in that the landmass separated into countries. The breakup of Gondwana started the episode of a continental drift that separated Africa from South America and formed the South Atlantic Ocean. At the same time, the Indian subcontinent started moving north, heading for Asia and the eventual uplift of the Himalayas while Antarctica moved southward, and became frigid, desolate, and at the bottom of the world.
From an area flourishing with life, Antarctica turned into a freezing, deserted place at the bottom of the world—warning the people of what could be in store for the world in the future.
5. Describe the impact of Antarctica on the writer.
Ans:- The writer, being a south Indian, was used to a warm climate. Hence, two weeks in a freezing place where 90 percent of the earth’s total ice volumes are stored, was not only tough physically but also mentally.
It was a huge expanse of white devoid of any indication of human habitation such as trees, billboards, or buildings. Thus, one could lose all earthly sense of perspective and time. The size of things varied from the minute to the colossal. Among the tiniest were the midgets and mites and the huge included the blue whales and icebergs as gigantic as countries. The days seemed to never end because the sun never set in summer and the omnipresent calm was interrupted only by the infrequent avalanche or splitting ice sheets that sanctified the place. The place also held a fascination that forced one to think about the earth’s geological history. It seemed to be warning the humans—predicting trouble.
6. How has man played havoc with the ecological health of the earth?
Ans:- Although human civilizations have been on the face of the earth for only 12,000 years, which is very insignificant in the earth’s history, they have managed to create quite a lot of trouble. In their effort to ascertain their supremacy over nature they have concretized it with villages, towns, cities, and mega-cities. Because of their rapidly increasing population, they vie with other species for resources. The burning of fossil fuels has created a blanket of carbon dioxide around the world, which is increasing the average global temperature.
This change of climate threatens to melt the West Antarctic ice sheet; disrupt the Gulf Stream ocean current, and even end the world known to us.
7. How is Antarctica untouched as compared to the rest of the world?
Ans:- The rest of the world is battling with an ever-increasing population which in turn has led to excessive burning of fossil fuels that has created a blanket of carbon dioxide around the world thereby increasing the average global temperature. To add to this depletion of resources is the concretization of land.
However, Antarctica is the only place in the world that has never supported the human population and is therefore relatively untouched in this respect.
8. How does the visit to the South Pole help in driving home the need to preserve Mother Nature?
Ans:- A visit to the South Pole proves to be very successful because it’s not possible to go there and not be affected by it. You can be indifferent about the polar icecaps melting while sitting in the comfort of your homes but while looking at glaciers receding and ice melting, the truth of global warming hits you very hard.
Moreover, Antarctica’s simple ecosystem and lack of biodiversity make it a perfect place to study the effect of a changing environment. Scientists warn that a further depletion in the ozone layer will affect the activities of the tiny phytoplankton, which in turn will affect the lives of all the marine animals and birds of the region and the global carbon cycle.
9. To the writer, the Antarctic experience very poignantly underlined the fact that everything in this creation is interlinked. Elaborate.
Ans:- During their journey, the writer recalls, how just before the Antarctic Circle, the Shokalskiy got stuck in a thick stretch of ice between the peninsula and Tadpole Island. The Captain decided to turn back north, but before that, all of them had to climb down and walk on the ocean. Walking on the meter-thick ice, they were aware of the 180 meters of living, breathing, saltwater beneath it. They also noticed the Crab-eater seals stretching and sunning themselves on ice floes like stray dogs under the shade of a banyan tree. All this underlined the fact that the entire creation is knitted together despite geographical distances.