About the Author
Tishani Doshi is a poet, journalist and dancer from India. She has published some books of poetry and fiction. She has been widely appreciated for her essays, poems and short stories. She has travelled a lot and her most exciting journey was to Antarctica.
The Journey to the end of the Earth from Vistas book for Class 12 is an enlightening account of the author’s visit to the coolest, windiest and driest continent in the world. Tishani Doshi holds the opinion that in order to understand the Earth’s present, past and future, one must go to Antarctica. The study of this region is useful to us because the world’s geological history is trapped in Antarctica. She accompanied a team of students visiting the continent. She had a thrilling experience of the ice-mysteries of this ice-region.
Summary of the Chapter – Journey to the End of the Earth
Six years ago, Geoff Green, a Canadian, started the “Students on Ice” programme. Under this programme, high school students are taken on a trip to Antarctica and offer inspiring educational opportunities. This will encourage them in developing new awareness and respect for our planet. The programme has been a success because students can see the collapsing ice shelves and retreating glaciers with their own eyes. They realize the threat of global warming is real.
Antarctica has a simple ecosystem. It lacks biodiversity. Hence, Antarctica is the perfect place to study how little changes in the environment can have big consequences. The author too got a chance to work in the coldest atmosphere of the Antarctic continent.
The narrator of Journey to the end of the earth heads towards Antarctica aboard ‘Akademik Shokalskiy’, a Russian research vessel with a group of students. She commenced her journey 13.09 degrees north of the Equator in Madras. She crossed none time zones, six checkpoints, three oceans and many ecospheres to reach her destination. After travelling for a hundred hours, she finally reached the Antarctic continent. She felt relieved and wondered about the isolation of the continent and the historic time when India and Antarctica were a part of the same landmass.
The narrator says that six hundred and fifty million years ago, Antarctica was a part of a giant amalgamated Southern supercontinent called Gondwana. There was no existence of humans on the planet at that time. The climate was warm then and there was a huge variety of flora and fauna. The supercontinent of Gondwana existed for 500 million years and then the landmass broke. With the extinction of dinosaurs, the landmass separated into different countries shaping into the globe that we know today.
From the continent of Antarctica, we can get an understanding of the evolution of human existence on this planet and where the humans are heading now. It also enlightens about the significance of Cordilleran folds and pre-Cambrian granite shields; ozone and carbon.
The narrator stayed for two weeks in Antarctica, where 90% of the Earth’s total ice volumes are stored. Midges, mites, blue whales and limitless expanse of huge icebergs surrounded her with no existence of human life. The surreal twenty-four-hour summer lights and eerie silence often interrupted by the breaking sound of an iceberg was mind-boggling.
The narrator says that human beings have been on Earth for about 12000 years. In this short span of time, humans have changed the face of the environment for worse. Humans have dominated the Earth by establishing cities and megacities, which have led to the encroachment of Mother Nature. The rapid increase in population has added to more distress. Human beings are battling with each other for limited resources. The average global temperature is rising and the blanket of carbon dioxide around the world is increasing.
The narrator is alarmed by many unanswered questions about climate change like what if West Antarctic ice sheets melt entirely or if the Gulf Stream Ocean current will be disrupted or will the world come to end one day. Antarctica has a crucial role to play in this debate. The Earth’s present and future lie hidden in Antarctica.
The greater lesson to be learnt is little changes in the environment can have big repercussions. The microscopic phytoplankton is nourishment for marine animals and birds in the region. The depletion in the ozone layer will affect the activities of these grasses. This will also affect the lives of the others in this region and the global carbon cycle.
The narrator says that her experience at Antarctica was never-to-be-forgotten. At 65.55 degrees South of Equator, the narrator and the students were told to get down. It was a breathtaking experience to see crabeater seals sitting in the periphery.
Tishani Doshi is overwhelmed with the beauty of balance in play on our planet. She has many questions in mind that are still unanswered but she is optimistic that next-generation children are full of idealism to save the Earth.
Q1. What is the Significance of the Title ‘Journey to the End of The Earth’?
Ans. The title assumes significance as the author travels to Antarctica, which is the southernmost part of Earth and almost appears at the end of it. This chapter is a memoir of the author’s journey to Antarctica with high school students on board a Russian Vessel. The two poles North and South virtually signify two ends of the planet Earth. The journey takes the author across nine time zones, three water bodies, three ecosystems and six checkpoints, which implies that almost the whole of the planet has been travelled before one reaches to the end of it. As Antarctica is at one end of the planet, it is without human existence, there is no biodiversity, no sign of billboards or trees. It is a place far far away from the crowd noise and pollution. Thus, ‘Journey to the End of the Earth’ is an apt title.
Q2. How are Men Responsible for Creating a Negative Impact on Earth in a Short span of 12 Thousand Years?
Ans. In a short span of human history, man has managed to destroy nature and create villages, towns, cities and megacities. Rapid human population growth and limited resources exert pressure on land. Burning of fossil fuels has only helped in increasing the average global temperature. Melting of ice-caps, depletion of ozone layers and global warming are the real and immediate dangers for making but they have been created by mankind only.
Q3. What are Phytoplanktons? How are they Important for the Earth’s Survival?
Ans. Phytoplankton is a single-celled plant of the sea. These grasses of the sea feed the entire marine life of the Southern Ocean. These microorganisms require a low degree of temperature for their survival. Their existence is threatened due to the overheating and depletion of ozone layers. This chapter sends a message to the readers that humans need to take care of small things so that bigger issues will fall in place.
Q4. What was the Objective of the “Students on Ice Programme”?
Ans. The objective of this programme was to offer the future generation of policymakers a life-changing experience at an early age. At this age, the students were willing to learn and absorb the information and most importantly act towards it. Mr Geoff Green provided high school students with an opportunity to understand and develop a respect for our planet.