There have been five previous mass extinctions in the relatively short history of life on earth. The biggy came at the end of the Permian Period around 250 million years ago when an estimated 96% of all species were wiped out! That might seem like a lot and a long time ago but it’s a drop in the bucket and the blink of an eye in the 4.5 billion years since Mother Earth coalesced from the womb of our sun.

Amazing as the figures are, they are controversial for some. There are those out there who, according to biblical calculations, put the age of the earth at 4000 BCE + 5 days (prior to the creation of Adam on the 6th day).

Creation Museum

a scene from the Museum of Creation somewhere in Texas where they know about these things!

I’m not here to discuss pseudo-science or the co-existence  of humans and dinosaurs and so I stand by my figures and move on . .

It is estimated that there are currently 8.7 million species (excluding bacteria) living with us on planet Earth. It’s an estimate because we haven’t had the time to track them all down. Species have gone extinct since they ‘jelled’ in the primordial soup, it’s a normal and natural selection process – some make it and some don’t! The background, pre-human extinction rate stood at 0.1 per million species per year – pretty minuscule you might think. That said, species are presently going extinct at a rate that is approx 1000 times greater than the background rate! We are losing what we have never known we had faster than we discover new wonders and the cause of this staggering increase in die-off is us – you and me and the corrupt system that rules us!

Australian humpback dolphin

new species – Australian Humpback Dolphin

Edwardsiella anemones

new species – a sea anemone that lives on the underside of sea-ice

Liropus male skeleton shrimp

new species – Skeleton Shrimp

I’m not here to waffle on about climate change; burning less fossil fuel, saving the Amazon or the plastic gyres in the oceans – it’s too late for all that! Scientists first reported on human-created climate change effects back in the late 19th century – nobody in a position to do anything cared then and nobody in a position to do anything cares now. Anyway, it’s too late – unstoppable Anthropomorphic (human-induced) Climate Disruption is a fact. Extreme weather is here to stay and it is and will continue to get worse. Methane gas, a far stronger greenhouse gas than CO2, is erupting from the melting tundra leaving great sink holes.

siberian sink2


doesn’t look so dramatic, but trust me, it is!

The same gas is ‘boiling’ out of the Arctic ocean at phenomenal rates – this whilst lobbyists for fossil fuel corporations and their lackeys in parliaments around the so-called ‘developed world’ deny there is even such a thing as climate change!

We are in the midst of the Sixth Great Extinction!

So, if it’s unstoppable, what should we do? Be kind to those species, including our own, that surround us. Care for and enjoy this still beautiful planet whilst you still can. Go out and discover something new – it might not be a new species but it could easily be a new view from a new place or you could smile more often for no better reason than when you do there’s usually someone who will smile back. Your day and theirs will be a little brighter!

moody Okcularmoody Okçular

walk with a viewalways look on the bright side of life . . de-dum de-dum-de-dum-de-dum

J and I did just that one day last week when Mother Nature eased off a bit and relaxed – a new view from a new path, about 40 minutes drive away from home, that led to a small but significant discovery. As we passed a vertical buttress of rock I spotted what happens to be one of the rarest plants on the planet.

kocagol walk alkanna

did you spot it yet?

alkanna mughlae

Alkanna mughlae – a new location – has it made your day too?

First discovered some 15 years ago in two isolated and still secret locations in Muğla Province here in SW Turkey, I was lucky enough, 10 years back, to find it growing in profusion in Kocadere Valley near my house. What we have on this latest find is a colony of no more than half a dozen individuals of this critically endangered endemic by the name of Alkanna mughlae. So, not a new species but a new location for a fragile survivor and that has me smiling and happy. So happy that today I made Chelsea Buns!

chelsea buns

chelsea buns and coffee

Jolly nice they were too! As Nero once famously said, ‘ You hum it son, I’ll play it!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

ps J has just proof read this – she says I’m weird but the grammar is OK!

Incredible Okçular!

Edge Of The Abyss

Every year we are drawn back. Every year we are convinced that it will all be over; that one of nature’s little gems will have toppled over the edge; gone, swallowed by a land-slip. And yet, every year so far, it has clung on – if it had teeth then it would be by the very skin of those teeth!

J and I first spotted this gem about seven years ago when we were exploring an old, badly eroded forestry track which had been carved out of the mountainside leaving a great, vertical cliff-face to one side. What caught our eye was a hint of creamy white that seemed to glow in a patch of sunlight whilst surrounded by sombre greens and browns. Getting close was impossible given its position on the lip of a nasty drop with a very steep slope behind. Photographs enabled us to identify it as Orchis provincialis the Provence Orchid.

Provence Orchid clinging to the edge (how it looks from the track)

Every year heavy Winter rains wash away sections of this track and cliff-face; every year we are convinced our little gem will be gone; every year, so far, we have been delighted to rediscover this delicate beauty clinging to the very edge of existence.

the best I could do with a 300mm lens and trembling knees clinging to the cliff face!

Here’s a decent shot from WikiMedia:


Despite a lot of looking we have never found another specimen – the orchid is fairly rare in Turkey and found in just a few scattered locations.

Whilst on our wander up this track we were amazed to find the first Armenian Tulip – Tulipa armena ssp lycica blooming at least a month early – ‘Global Warming’/’Climate Change’ I suppose! on a positive note, the Corporate Capitalists have decided to stop denying the phenomena – now they’ve decided that there is nothing they can/will do about it apart from ‘manage’ the consequences. Great! ‘Fiddling while Rome burns’ comes to mind – as does teetering on the ‘Edge of the Abyss’!

Alan Fenn,Okçular Köyü

'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

Down In The Jungle . .

‘Down in the jungle living in a tent,

Better than a pre-fab – NO RENT!’

post WW2 prefabSo went the ditty when I was a kid growing up in the late 40s, early 50s. Bombs had wreaked havoc on the property market in the UK and ‘prefabs’ abounded – designed as a temporary solution to the housing crisis, they were still around in a few places when I last visited my childhood haunts a couple of years ago. You may well ask why and the answer is simple – people loved them – and still do!

I only ever experienced them as a visitor, so I have no first-hand anecdotes to pass on. My earliest recollection of home was a converted blockhouse with a flat, concrete roof three feet thick! Windows had been knocked through but the door was still a huge steel affair that clanged like something from a ‘Hammer House of Horror’ movie. Because my parents were near the top of the re-housing list we soon moved into one of the first ‘council houses’ to be built. These days such places are called ‘social housing’ and have a decided stigma attached. Back then they were modern, clean, available for a modest rent, and people were grateful for a decent roof over their heads.

Prefabs - Excaliber Estate, Catford‘Prefabs’ were council owned as well, until Maggie Thatcher sold off social housing in a very successful ploy to convince the working class that they were now ‘home-owners’ and should therefore vote Tory! This is the only reason these little gems survived – those who loved them, now owned them and could not easily be pushed aside for some flash, new shopping mall. Twenty one in original condition on the Excaliber Estate, Catford,South Londonhave been granted Grade 2 Listed Building status. If ‘prefabs’ were people they’d have a huge following on Twitter and Facebook.

Anyway, enough of all that. Time to get to the point.

These days, our local town of Ortaca is a thrusting, bustling and decidedly prosperous looking place; posh, modern apartments and villas abound. So, the story of Mehmet Orhan and his ‘prefab’ needs to be told before ‘the council’ moves in and ‘condemns’ him.

Baraka with air conditionerAs global warming kicks in and average temperatures rise, the prosperous citizens of Ortaca have set about adding their carbon footprint to the whole by purchasing the odd klima (air conditioning) or three. Out in Karaburun Mahallesi Mehmet Bey has ever been one to move with the times. He already has satellite tv and a fine güneş enerji sistem (solar energy hot water), so adding to his creature comforts with a klima was not given a second thought; ‘Every house should have a klima’ he said.

His latest life-style choice has certainly raised his profile in the community with locals and tourists stopping by to photograph the installation. Mehmet Bey obviously loves his home which offers many fiscal advantages over more conventional accommodation. And that brings this story very nicely full circle . .

‘Down in the jungle living in a tent,

Prefabs - Scrapsgate, Sheppey East Coast floods 1953
East Coast floods 1953 prefabs inundated at Scrapsgate, Isle of Sheppey near where I lived

Better than a pre-fab – NO RENT!’


Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü