Sample Essay | VCAA Exam 2014

Written by Olivia Dimovski – 2018 graduate with a 48 in English

Article: https://www.vcaa.vic.edu.au/Documents/exams/english/2014/2014english-w.pdf

The idea of exploration has intrigued humanity for millenia. Yvette Yergon’s opinion piece in a daily published newspaper ‘Exploring our dreams’ expands on the idea that there is wealth beyond the stars. In an enthusiastic tone, she extolls the ability of space exploration to make our world a better place. Accompanying her opinion piece is a graphic of a Christopher Colombus style ship. This is contrasted with an image of an astronaut and the various technologies that have stemmed from research in space exploration. In response to Yergon’s opinion piece is a scathing letter to the editor by Dr Peter Laikis titled “off the planet”. In his letter Dr Laikis argues that governments should focus on fixing ‘our real’ problems rather than attempting to fulfil ‘illusions’.

Yergon begins her piece with surprising statement “in Victoria you’re closer to space than you are to the Canberra”. Yergon attempts to contextualise the relatively short distance into space with the distance between the state of Victoria and our nation’s capital. In doing so, Yergon appeals to readers in enabling the audience to almost visual the brief distance between earth and outer space. Yergon states she has had the privilege to meet international group Kolombus-21 at a recent exhibition. Her visit has inspired her to learn more about space exploration and the benefits it will bring to our planet.

In an enraptured tone Yergon explains how “inspiring” exploration can be. She states to readers exploring the ‘unknown’ is the “biggest thing we do”. Emphasising the word the “biggest” Yergon attempts to convince readers that our desire to explore the unchartered realms of our universe is what drives our existence. Her point is reinforced as she mentions the ‘great’ explorer Christopher Columbus. By mentioning Columbus Yergon conjures up images of discovery and conquer and untold riches etched into the historical psyche of society, she goes on to claim Columbus achieved the dizzy heights of exploration in a “wooden ship” powered by nothing more than “wind” and “courage”. Mentioning the wooden ship shows readers that humanity is capable of great achievements despite the limitations of our technology. In using words such as wind and courage, Yergon shows to readers it is not our advanced tech that enables us to make great discoveries but our thirst for knowledge and desire to seek greater things beyond the confines of the known world. She concludes her argument with a short statement “that’s pretty inspiring” in a simple irrefutable effort to show that humanity is capable of anything.

In the following paragraph, Yergon speaks of the untold riches that orbit above us. She states that in order to persuade governments to invest “huge amounts of money” there must be more to space exploration than the “thrill of discovery”. In claiming there must be more to space than the idea of exploration Yergon shows reader that the universe is not any rich with recent discoveries but precious resources. She does this in order to validate her argument to prove to the audience that space exploration is not just some lavish travel opportunity.

Yergon goes on to speak of the “unlimited resources” available to humankind. In explaining the potential discovery of minerals, she attempts to make the idea of space exploration attractive to readers. In a somewhat overzealous tone, Yergon claims “perhaps there’s a new hunting waiting to happen”. Yergon’s choice of the emotive term ‘mining boom’ excites readers influencing them to believe in the values of investment in space exploration. Yergon goes on to perpetuate the idea that space is full of untold riches stating “no body owns them”. Reinforcing her point of the lack of ownership she writes of the recent attempt of a company to claim ownership of an asteroid. In doing this, Yergon makes the point that space is essentially for the taking. Further supporting her claim that space is an unlimited resource just waiting to be exploited she writes about how not even the united Nations jurisdiction reaches beyond the limits of our planet. In claiming so, she asserts that space is a blank canvas for humanity to express its needs and reap the benefits. She concludes her argument stating “there are no know law about ownership in space” further reinforcing the point that space exploration is beneficial both as a means of economic and creative expansion.

Yergon’s final argument is that the Kolombus-21 project is all about achieving international peace and fostering collaboration between countries. She states that although cooperation hasn’t always been a feature of space exploration, it is now an integral step towards achieving world peace. In making this argument Yergon attempts to show readers that space exploration isn’t solely about discovery and conquer but also about creating new lives and establishing strange relationships between the nations of the world. Her tone shifts from enthusiastic to diplomatic as she claims the solutions to our problems are beyond the stars. Her emphasis on “inspiring the next generation of scientists” reinforced the point of creating a better life for future generations. Yergon states all governments know we must invest in the “next generation of technology”. By making this claim Yergon proves the rationale behind space exploration is not any to build diplomatic bridges but to increase advantages to modern day technology. Following on from the previous point that most valuable products are a result of “research associated with space programs” Yergon presents us with image of an astronaut surrounded by various technologies created from advancements in technology. Once again she maintains that through our desire to explore, we have created products essential to our daily lives. She concludes her argument stating space exploration will help achieve international peace. She does this by describing Kolombus also means “dove” on international symbol of peace. She makes this claim in order to show readers that the rationale behinds space exploration is essentially to preserve the greater  goodness of our planet, a dream that may not be so farfetched after all.

In response to Yergon’s piece is a scathing letter to the editor by Dr Peter Laikis. Titled “Off the planet” Laikis asserts early on that he believes Yergon’s idea for international space exploration is ludicrous. He sarcastically opens his piece thanking Yergon for drawing our attention to the “next big thing”. In placing the statement the “next big thing” in quotation marks Laikis is essentially ridiculing Yergon’s great expectations for humanity.

He goes on to state that we should be focusing on bigger issues such as ‘hunger, disease and environment’. He does this in a satirical manner claiming these are little issues in comparison to aspirations of space travel. Laikis does this in order to dismiss the belief that space exploration will be the antidote to all our problems. He does this by stating that space exploration is nothing more than an ‘illusion’. Laikis’ emphasis on the word illusion highlights to readers that the more notion of space exploration is ridiculous when much needed funds should be used to alleviate real world problems.

Laikis even makes an appeal directly to Yergon writing ‘wake up Yvette’ as if she is in a dream. Laikis’ use of direct language attempts to show readers that the ideas of Yvette and Kolombus-21 space exploration team are nothing more than a childish thought. Laikis goes on to make the point that the main reason behind expeditions such as Columbus’ was to fulfil the greed of empires. He poses to the reader the question as to why this would not be the case nowadays. He does this in order to state that rather than achieving world peace all international governments are searching for is the justification to the claim to the untouched resources above. He concludes that all these dreams involve is “more and more” wealth” rather than world peace.

Laikis makes the final point that the real issue in our world today is fixing the problems we have created. He begins his concluding argument with a rhetorical question “You know, what I truly find inspiring?’. He does this in order to show it is not obviously not the outlandish dream of space exploration.

Laikis claims that our real priority should be working together on real problems. By emphasising the word ‘real’ he attempts to maintain that aspirations for space exploration are just farfetched ideas rather than posing issues. Further convincing the reader he claims this process must be achieved “step by step, one, by one” stating that it is a flaw yet integral process in enabling us to progress towards peace. Laikis claims that humanity’s greatest achievements are not laying down to that untouched land but improving our existing relationships. He reinforces his point almost as as a parody to Yergon’s argument “might be a dream night now – but at least it’s a dream worth pursuing”. By finishing his argument off in his manner Laikis presents to the readers an ideal worth pursuing, that is the prospect of world peace.

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