NCERT Textbook - Journey To The End Of The Earth Class 12 Notes | EduRev

English Class 12

Class 12 : NCERT Textbook - Journey To The End Of The Earth Class 12 Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


18 Vistas
3 3 3 3 3
Journey to the end of the Earth
Tishani Doshi Tishani Doshi Tishani Doshi Tishani Doshi Tishani Doshi
Before you read
If you want to know more about the planet’s past, present
and future, the Antarctica is the place to go to. Bon Voyage!
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.
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.
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
2019-20
Page 2


18 Vistas
3 3 3 3 3
Journey to the end of the Earth
Tishani Doshi Tishani Doshi Tishani Doshi Tishani Doshi Tishani Doshi
Before you read
If you want to know more about the planet’s past, present
and future, the Antarctica is the place to go to. Bon Voyage!
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.
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.
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
2019-20
19 Journey to the end of the Earth
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.
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.
For a sun-worshipping South Indian like myself, two
weeks in a place where 90 per cent 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
How do geological
phenomena help
us to know about
the history of
humankind?
2019-20
Page 3


18 Vistas
3 3 3 3 3
Journey to the end of the Earth
Tishani Doshi Tishani Doshi Tishani Doshi Tishani Doshi Tishani Doshi
Before you read
If you want to know more about the planet’s past, present
and future, the Antarctica is the place to go to. Bon Voyage!
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.
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.
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
2019-20
19 Journey to the end of the Earth
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.
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.
For a sun-worshipping South Indian like myself, two
weeks in a place where 90 per cent 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
How do geological
phenomena help
us to know about
the history of
humankind?
2019-20
20 Vistas
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.
Human impact
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.
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.
What are the
indications for the
future of
humankind?
2019-20
Page 4


18 Vistas
3 3 3 3 3
Journey to the end of the Earth
Tishani Doshi Tishani Doshi Tishani Doshi Tishani Doshi Tishani Doshi
Before you read
If you want to know more about the planet’s past, present
and future, the Antarctica is the place to go to. Bon Voyage!
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.
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.
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
2019-20
19 Journey to the end of the Earth
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.
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.
For a sun-worshipping South Indian like myself, two
weeks in a place where 90 per cent 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
How do geological
phenomena help
us to know about
the history of
humankind?
2019-20
20 Vistas
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.
Human impact
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.
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.
What are the
indications for the
future of
humankind?
2019-20
21 Journey to the end of the Earth
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 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.
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
2019-20
Page 5


18 Vistas
3 3 3 3 3
Journey to the end of the Earth
Tishani Doshi Tishani Doshi Tishani Doshi Tishani Doshi Tishani Doshi
Before you read
If you want to know more about the planet’s past, present
and future, the Antarctica is the place to go to. Bon Voyage!
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.
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.
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
2019-20
19 Journey to the end of the Earth
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.
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.
For a sun-worshipping South Indian like myself, two
weeks in a place where 90 per cent 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
How do geological
phenomena help
us to know about
the history of
humankind?
2019-20
20 Vistas
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.
Human impact
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.
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.
What are the
indications for the
future of
humankind?
2019-20
21 Journey to the end of the Earth
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 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.
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
2019-20
22 Vistas
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.
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!
2019-20
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