This week, pale people both home and abroad wigged out after Scotland's Daily Record published an article claiming "redheads could become extinct" due to climate change. Citing an unnamed scientist, the paper forwarded the idea that increased sun exposure could kill off the world's ginger population like so many freckle-faced vampires, possibly within a few hundred years. Unfortunately for redheads coveting their potential conservation status (and the dupes at the Huffington Post, Glamour and The Independent), this story is total bullshit.
"I don't buy the redheads dying out bit," said University of Edinburgh's Professor Jonathan Rees, who, as arguably the world's foremost expert on red hair and genetics, would probably know about this sort of thing. Rees told Gawker the only way red hair gene could die out is if carriers "have fewer viable children than others."
The question is therefore do red heads have fewer viable kids? Now, red heads are more susceptible to skin cancer, but in most of the world I doubt if this is now a powerful evolutionary effect to be relevant.
University of Delaware biologist John H. McDonald was similarly skeptical, saying, "That article is silly; I don't know if they made up their experts, deliberately misquoted them, or if they really are that stupid." According to McDonald, there's really only one plausible way gingers could go extinct:
I suppose it's possible that people's taste in mates will change, and redheads of the future will all die sad and lonely without ever having kids, but I don't know what that would have to do with climate change.
[Image via AMC]