Journey to the End of the Earth By Tishani Doshi


Tishani Doshi’s ‘Journey to the End of the Earth’ details her journey to the world’s coldest, driest, and windiest continent: Antarctica. Antarctica is a geological time capsule. Geoff Green’s ‘Students on Ice’ initiative transports high school students to the ends of the world. Doshi believes that Antarctica is the best site to visit in order to have a better understanding of the earth’s present, past, and future.

Summary of the lesson

Beginning of Journey- The narrator joined the ‘Akademik Shokalskiy,’ a Russian research ship. It was on its way to Antarctica, the world’s coldest, driest, and windiest continent. His expedition began at Madras, 13.09 degrees north of the Equator (Chennai). He travelled across nine different time zones, six checkpoints, three bodies of water, and at least three ecospheres. To get there, he drove, flew, and sailed for more than 100 hours.

Southern Supercontinent (Gondwana)– A large southern supercontinent called Gondwana existed six hundred and fifty million years ago. It was centred roughly on modern-day Antarctica. Humans had not yet arrived on the global stage. The climate was substantially warmer at the time. It was home to a wide range of plants and fauna. When the dinosaurs became extinct and the age of mammals began, the landmass was forced to divide into the countries that exist today.

The visit was intended to educate participants about Antarctica. It was to gain a better understanding of the Cordilleran folds and Precambrian granite shields; of ozone and carbon; and of evolution and extinction. Antarctica contains around 90% of the world’s total ice volume. As large as countries, icebergs are. In 24-hour austral summer light, the days go on indefinitely.

Human Impact- The most contentious argument of our time is whether or not the West Antarctic Ice Sheet will completely melt. Antarctica is the place (for us) to go if we want to study the Earth’s past, present, and future.

Antarctica’s ecosystem is simple and devoid of biodiversity. It is the ideal location to examine how small changes in the environment can have significant consequences (results). Scientists warn that continued ozone depletion will have a detrimental effect on the region’s aquatic creatures and birds. Additionally, it will affect the global carbon cycle.

The burning of fossil fuels has contributed to the pollution of the atmosphere. It has resulted in the formation of a global carbon dioxide blanket. It is increasing the global temperature, as seen by the melting of icebergs in Antarctica. It demonstrates how minute changes in the atmosphere may have a profound effect. If global temperatures continue to rise, the human race may be endangered. “Students on ice” is a programme that provides an adequate chance for students to comprehend how global temperature can pose a serious threat to human existence. It instils in them new knowledge. According to Geoff Green, high school kids are the future policymakers. They can contribute to averting ecological disasters and mitigating the consequences of global warming.

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Effect of Climatic Change-  The author uses an example to demonstrate how even minor changes in the atmosphere can be dangerous. Phytoplankton are microscopic single-celled plants. They provide sustenance for the entire Southern Ocean food chain. They utilise the energy of the sun to digest carbon and provide oxygen. Further ozone depletion may impair this function and, indirectly, the lives of all marine species.

Walk on the Ocean- It was the most exhilarating experience of the trip. They walked on the ocean after climbing down the gangplank. There were 52 of them. They were walking on a meter-thick ice pack. There were 180 metres of living, breathing saltwater beneath the ice layer. Seals were basking in the sun on ice. The narrator was taken aback by the magnificence of the setting. He desired it would not become as heated as it once was millions of years ago. If this occurs, the consequences could be disastrous.

Important Questions and Answers 

Question. What is Antarctica? 
Ans. Antarctica is the earth’s southernmost continent. It is the continent that is driest, coldest, and windiest.

Question. What is ‘Students on ice?

Ans. ‘Students on Ice’ is an educational trip to Antarctica. It takes high school students to show them the horrific effects of human activities in Antarctica so that the students (future policymakers of the earth) know that the end of the world is really close and that something must be done to save the planet.

Question. Why did Geoff Green decide to take high school students to Antarctica?
Ans. Geoff Green did not think it was a smart idea to take interested celebrities to Antarctica until he thought about high school students. He hoped that by seeing Antarctica, the young excitement in them would readily realise the gravity of the crisis that the globe faces, and they would do their part to save the planet from further deterioration.

Question. Why is the Students on Ice program a success?
Ans. When one stands in the midst of calving ice sheets, retreating glaciers, and melting icebergs, one knows that the risks to the Earth are genuine. It is not the same as talking about Antarctica from the comfort zones of our warm countries, and hence arriving in Antarctica is a startling revelation.

Question. Why are the youngsters called the future policymakers of the earth?
Ans. The youngsters are called the future policy-makers because it is they who will steer the government machine as they grow up. More than that, the more educated youth of today is the hope for the earth as many students are more informed and more aware of the weakening strength of the planet.

Questions. What lessons are we able to learn from Antarctica?
Ans. While in Antarctica, we can see ice sheets collapsing, water levels rising and the sea taking sunbaths on the ice floes. We may also walk on the thin patches of ice and feel the life beneath our feet. We can see icebergs the size of a small nation. We will be surprised to learn that these ice sheets were many times larger than they are now only a few years ago. You will notice a green patch of phytoplankton — a microscopic grass that feeds the entire marine life. Finally, if you dig a little, you might find the remains of half-million-year-old animals, plants, and birds that were destroyed in the receding ice age. All of this teaches us about the planet’s death.

Question. What are phytoplanktons? How are they important for the earth’s survival? What does the parable of phytoplankton teach us?                                                             

Ans. Phytoplankton is a single-celled grass that feeds the entire southern ocean’s marine life. These microorganisms require a low degree of temperature for their survival. But due to the overheating and the depletion of ozone layers, their existence is threatened. The message for humans is to take care of the small things so that the bigger things will also fall in place.

Question. How is Antarctica significant in climatic debates?
Ans. Antarctica is a landmass covered with miles of ice, layered on top of each other. Each of those layers has millions of years’ worth of carbon records from species that have existed since the earth’s formation. While considering the earth’s future, these carbon records will shed light on the past and allow scientists to co-relate the past, present, and future.

Question. How do geological phenomena help us to know about the history of humankind?
Ans. Geological phenomena unquestionably aid in our understanding of human history. Gondwana, a massive southern supercontinent, existed 650 million years ago. The weather was much nicer. It was home to a diverse range of vegetation and fauna. For 500 million years, Gondwana prospered. Finally, it disintegrated into the separate countries that exist today. It was the time when dinosaurs were extinct and the age of mammals began.

Question. What are the indications for the future of humankind?
Ans. The land is under strain due to rapid population increase and limited resources. The use of fossil fuels has only contributed to the rise in world average temperature. Melting ice caps, ozone layer degradation, and global warming are genuine and imminent threats to humanity. They will have an impact on the life of all of the region’s marine animals and birds.

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Question. ‘The world’s geological history is trapped in Antarctica: How is the study of this region useful to us?                                 Ans. The study of Antarctica indicates that India and Antarctica were formerly part of a supercontinent known as Gondwana. This supercontinent first appeared 650 million years ago. Gondwana had a much warmer climate. It supported a wide range of plants and wildlife. Then, some 150 million years ago, dinosaurs became extinct. The age of mammals began. Gondwana was compelled to split intonations. The planet was shaped similarly to how we know it today. There was the formation of a cold circumpolar stream. It chilled Antarctica. As a result, we might claim that Antarctica has effectively trapped the world’s geological history.

Question. Why is Antarctica the place to go to, to understand the earth’s present, past and future?   

Introduction: Antarctica is the sole region where we can study and scrutinise the Earth’s present, past, and future.

Reason: Visiting Antarctica allows you to be a part of the Earth’s past. We now know that approximately 650 million years ago, there was a massive supercontinent in the south. It was known as Gondwana. India and Antarctica were both parts of the same landmass known as Gondwana.

Things were really different back then. Humans had not yet landed on Earth. Antarctica had a significantly warmer climate. It was home to a diverse range of vegetation and fauna. Dinosaurs were wiped out. The age of mammals began. The landmass was forced to be divided into the countries that exist today.

Antarctica research also aids in our understanding of the planet’s present and future. Geological history is imprisoned. We can examine the Earth’s past in Antarctica. Approximately 90% of the world’s total ice is kept here. Antarctica has no trees, buildings, or other human settlements. Here, glaciers are melting and ice caps are melting. We can connect them to the effects of global warming. Antarctica also serves as a forewarning for the future. It predicts the end of the planet if the West Antarctica ice sheet completely melts and the Gulf Stream ocean current is disturbed. What will happen if global warming causes icebergs to melt all the time? It will have devastating consequences. The continued reduction (decadence) of the ozone layer will have a negative impact on sea animals, flora (plants and trees), and humans (undesirably).

Conclusion: Except for Antarctica, there is no area on Earth where we can locate current, past, and future records. As a result, Antarctica is an ideal location for learning about the earth’s present, past, and future.

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