Page:Mars - Lowell.djvu/181

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that there is some reason to believe the so-called seas of Mars to have been seas in their day, and to be at the present moment midway in evolution from the seas of Earth to the seas of the Moon.

Now, if a planet were at any stage of its career able to support life, it is probable that a diminishing water supply would be the beginning of the end of that life, for the air would outlast the available water. Those of its inhabitants who had succeeded in surviving would find themselves at last face to face with the relentlessness of a scarcity of water constantly growing greater, till at last they would all die of thirst, either directly or indirectly; for either they themselves would not have water enough to drink, or the plants or animals which constituted their diet would perish for lack of it,—an alternative of small choice to them, unless they were conventionally particular as to their mode of death. Before this lamentable conclusion was reached, however, there would come a time in the course of the planet's history when water was not yet wanting, but simply scarce and requiring to be husbanded; when, for the inhabitants, the one supreme problem of existence would be the water problem,—how to get water enough to sustain life, and how best to utilize every drop of water they could get.