A few years ago, one of the most famous British newspapers, The Independent, had a blaring headline, “Gingers face extinction due to climate change, scientists warn.”
Shortly after, The Huffington Post hopped aboard the redhead extinction express and claimed that according to ‘experts,’ redheaded people might be extinct in the next few hundred years.
News regarding the extinction of redheads has been making rounds on the internet and media forever. Some claim that there will be no red hair after 2060; others claim 2100 is the last year we will see natural redheads.
The Climate Change Myth
Some people believe that the main reason behind red hair and light skin is that redheaded people do not get enough exposure to the sun during their early years due to the cloud cover in those areas. They, therefore, lack vitamin D in their systems, which is responsible for producing melanin, a chemical pigment that darkens hair and skin.
With climate change so prevalent, the chances are that some areas will become less cloudy. Fewer clouds in the sky will mean more exposure to the sun, which will eventually lead to the gene responsible for red hair going extinct.
Busting the Myth
According to Grist, the argument that climate change will make red hair go extinct is grounded on numerousdefective assumptions.
The first one is that red hair is based on only one gene. In reality, geneticists have discovered that more than one gene plays a role in causing red hair and light skin. So it does not make too much sense to allocate the extinction of red hair to the decrease of one recessive gene.
Another flawed assumption in the climate change myth is that Europeans can soak up more sun in cloudy environments due to their genetic structure. Scientists have discovered that irrespective of the color tone of your skin, you can produce vitamin D with the same efficiency.
The third flawed assumption states that climate changes will lead to fewer clouds. Scientists and researchers state that there is not enough evidence to prove this claim.
Lastly, with diminishing clouds, the genes that have helped people survive in cloudy environments will also vanish, and so will the people with red hair, as they are carriers for those genes. This assumption is also flawed because the redheads do not face the same conditions found in the prehistoric era. They have access to vitamin supplements and sunscreen.
A Little on the Experts
The experts who made claims about redhead extinction chose to remain anonymous when publishing their ‘studies.’ The person behind the climate change myth lists themselves as a philosopher with qualifications like MA (Hons) and M.Phil, Cert. Ed. However, their educational background depicts nothing from genetic science.
This ‘expert’ is also known to claim that they found true descendants of Queen Sheba and even those of Eve (The Adam and Eve story). Certified geneticists and scientists are very skeptical about these researches.
Other Claims of Redhead Extinction
With the advent of the internet and social media, news spread like fire. Hardly anyone verifies the authenticity of a statement before sharing or publishing it.
The news of redhead extinction has been making rounds and growing popular on the internet for a long time. Most news claim that ‘genetic scientists’ have predicted that there will be no redheads after 2060.
This news quickly grabbed the attention of bloggers and social media users, who started to quote the Oxford Hair Foundation for the study. However, only a brief search engine run for Oxford Hair Foundation shows that such “researches” are most probably unauthentic as there is no official foundation.
Dig a little deeper, and you will find that the Oxford Hair Foundation did exist until a decade ago. It was an organization funded by one of the most renowned fast-moving consumer good brands, Procter & Gamble, known for a wide range of beauty and hair products and, not surprisingly, red hair dye.
Final Verdict on if Red Hair People are Going Extinct
Although several people claim to have researched the extinction of red hair, none of the claims appear to be backed by solid evidence. Most of these studies seem to be initiated for publicity purposes only, and they work around the assumption that recessive genes, which are responsible for red hair, can die out.
According to geneticists, recessive genes may become rare but will not vanish unless everyone carrying the recessive gene fails to reproduce and dies.
Fortunately, this means that all those who think red hair extinction will occur are wrong. So the redheaded people are here to stay well beyond 2060 and are not going to meet the dinosaurs anytime soon.