Applied Geography formerly Rural Training Center, Thailand

2006 May 14 The Watershed: The RTC-TH Web Newsletter

May 14, 2006

What?’s in a name? The Watershed was chosen as the name for the RTC-TH web newsletter for two specific reasons. Both reasons reflect definitions of the term.

In Geography, the core academic discipline for the RTC-TH, a watershed is defined as ?“an area of land that drains down slope to the lowest point. The water moves through a network of drainage pathways, both underground and on the surface. Generally, these pathways converge into streams and rivers, which become progressively larger as the water moves on downstream, eventually reaching an estuary and the ocean. Other terms used interchangeably with watershed include drainage basin or catchment basin.?”

With global warming, water resources will become, if they are not already, a major concern for everyone. Thus, common threads throughout all RTC-TH training are topics related to water and energy. It is a classic Yin-Yang relationship: water and fire. Everyone needs water to survive. Yet recent reports indicate that only half of the world?’s people can get to clean drinking water once a day. About half of the world?’s people burn wood as the primary fuel to cook. This leads to deforestation, which in turn leads to loss of watersheds. In order to protect watersheds, alternative fuels need to be found.

Another definition for watershed is ?“A critical point that marks a division or a change of course; a turning point.?” With the world in crisis, the RTC-TH has undertaken the challenge to educate people about the environment and sustainability. This will be a major turning point as the world?’s population continues to grow beyond the 6 billion mark. For most of us living in industrial countries, we have a very unsustainable lifestyle.

Changing habits and behaviors is not easy. But without change, the path to ruin is almost certain. Faced with few alternatives, we hope many of the poor rural farmers can see the light and strive to make themselves self-sufficient in time to create and maintain sustainable family farms. To survive, they will need to protect their local watershed. We must break the cycle of wasteful living that underlies the destruction of the environment to provide the materials in excess of our basic needs. We all live in a watershed, standing on the brink of the greatest challenge on Earth---survival.

Last updated by earthsyssci on 02/04/2018
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