Early in the introduction Ryerson writes:
Many of us today do recognize that the Earth and its resources are limited, yet too many people still cling to the notion that modern science and technology will enable us to defy physical limits. In the Middle Ages, alchemists sought in vain for a “philosopher’s stone” that would convert base metals into gold. They never succeeded. Why? Because what they were looking for did not, and could not, exist, because its existence would have violated the physical laws governing the universe.It's clear that he recognizes that we live on a finite planet, but he still proposes the same solution, direct population control methods, that have been tried for many decades with little in the way of results to show for this type of program. I accuse him of looking toward a solution that defies social laws or realities that govern human societies. I'm referring to the lack of social justice in class structured societies that undermines the health and safety of its citizens. This I firmly believe is a well-guarded secret that social scientists in capitalist societies refuse to acknowledge for reasons that I will shortly explain.
I was first tipped off about this secret fact by a professor who specialized in population studies. I went to her back in the late 1970s because I wanted to take her course which was officially filled up. In one part of our interview she disclosed to me in rather hushed tones that existing population controls methods were missing the point of the reasons for the resistance by the targeted populations: large families were necessary to provide social supports for families that were otherwise missing in class structured societies. It is possible to find such documented evidence to support this argument, but one must look hard and long in population studies to find it. I quote one such source, page five from a book by Mohammed Sharif entitled Poverty Reduction - An Effective Means of Population Control:
There are studies that show that children are not liabilities but assets to poor parents--they contribute to the family's current income and provide old-age security to the parents [he lists eight such studies]. Children, especially male children begin working at age as early as six year and by age 12 they completely pay off to their parents the total cost of their upbringing and in additions enough to cover the cost for one of their siblings [cites one study]. This suggest that larger the number of children, the greater is the net income for the parents and higher is the standard of living.Hence it is clear that the only real solution for over-population is a people's revolution to insure that their societies are run "of, by, and for the people". It is for that reason that this secret must be suppressed by capitalist authorities and that capitalist controlled websites such as Post Carbon Institute like to run such articles while ignoring the evidence that these programs don't work.
In the absence of any organized system of social security, during old age parents have to depend on supports from their children. This is especially so because people who live by the day and have no assets other than their physical labor are unable to save for their old age.