Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 8:45 AM
Peter John Webster, Georgia Institute of Technology Main Campus, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Atlanta, GA, United States
For over five millenia, the great monsoon river basins of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Indus have provided for great and flourishing agrarian civilizations. However, rapid population growth and urbanization have placed stress on the rural sector causing the use of land that is more prone for flood and drought. In addition, increased population and farming have stressed the availability of fresh water both from rivers and aquifers. Additionally, rapid urbanization has severely reduced water quality within the great rivers. Added to these problems is delta subsidence from water withdrawal that, at the moment far surpasses sea level rise from both natural and anthropogenic effects. Finally, there appear to be great plans for river diversion that may reduce fresh water inflow into the Brahmaputra delta. 
All of these factors fall against a background of climate change, both anthropogenic and natural, of which there is great uncertainty. We an attempt a frank assessment assessment of the sustainability of society in the great basins and make some suggestions of factors that require attention in the short term.