Photo credit: Supreme Court Pediment by Flickr.com user Kevin Harber

Executive Orders for 2014: Michael Branch

Back in November of 2013, President Obama issued an executive order on climate preparedness. Because executive orders circumvent Congress within certain limits, they allow the president to implement action to address climate change and other issues. A few weeks ago I asked some of our authors to create their own executive orders to improve our handling of the environment. Here's another installment in the series, from Fake President Michael P. Branch, editor of John Muir's Last Journey.  

Executive Order 739453: Establishing Federal Capability for the Department of the Interior to Repopulate the United States of America with Extant Conspecifics and Related Taxa of Megafauna that Went Extinct during the Pleistocene

By the authority vested in me as Fake President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows: Section 1. Policy. It is heretofore the policy of the United States to restore our country to the wildness and ecological wholeness that existed prior to the massive Pleistocene extinctions that occurred between 10,000 and 13,000 years ago. Section 2. Background. Pleistocene North America was home to many now-extinct species of horses, donkeys, camels, muskoxen, sloths, tapirs, peccaries, cheetahs, lions, mammoths, and mastodons. Also present were giant short-faced bears, saber toothed cats, and dire wolves, as well as the nine-foot-long sabertooth salmon and the ten-foot-tall terror bird. Section 3. Rationale. It would be incredibly cool to go for a hike and see a cheetah chasing a pronghorn antelope at sixty miles per hour. Section 4. Implementation. The mechanism for “Pleistocene Rewilding” will be the introduction of extant conspecifics and related taxa of megafauna that went extinct during the Pleistocene Era. For example, extinct Pleistocene tapirs will be represented by the mountain tapir, which survives today in South America. The extinct North American camel will be replaced by the dromedary in the American deserts, and by the vicuña or guanaco in the mountains. For the lost megaherbivores—the mammoths and mastodons—we will use the Asian elephant, which is more closely related to extinct North American mammoths than to surviving African elephants. In place of the vanished American cheetah and American lion we will introduce their surviving African cousins. Section 5. Rectocranial Extraction Provision. Until such time as Pleistocene Rewilding can be accomplished in the United States, be it here recognized that the animals that made it through the bottleneck of the Pleistocene extinctions are as miraculous as those that have been lost. Among these survivors are wolf, bison, grizzly, cougar, and pronghorn. As we enter a terrible new age of Anthropocene extinctions, be it ordered that we pull our heads out of our asses and protect what we still have.