Only 2% of the world’s population has red or ginger hair and based on historical records this number has been decreasing over time. This is due to a gene mutation that yields red hair and pale skin which is more sensitive to sunlight. This leaves the DNA in cells more prone to sun damage as well as skin cancer.
In 2008 the first piece of informational articles was published regarding this issue, focusing on some old studies that were addressed by critics as “too simplistic” for the contemporary understanding of genetics. A more recognized specialist from ScotlandsDNA institution, Dr. Alistair Moffat was very criticized for blaming that climate change could potentially lead redheads to extinction in the next 100 years, whilst others who were of the same opinion mentioned 2060.
“I think the reason for light skin and red hair is that we do not get enough sun and we have to get all the Vitamin D we can. If the climate is changing and it is to become more cloudy or less cloudy then this will affect the gene. If it was to get less cloudy and there was more sun, then yes, there would be fewer people carrying the gene.” (Quote by Dr. Alistair Moffat)
This was a statement published in 2014, a time when the world was only beginning to feel the repercussions of climate change and global warming, therefore Dr. Moffat’s theories have been heavily criticized. His ideology focused on the ability the human organism has to evolve in order to survive.
As the gene found in redheads is quite vulnerable to high doses of sunlight, it would have to evolve in future generations without the gene in order for the human body to survive. This is exactly how our ancestors managed to survive and evolve through so many different climate changes such as Ice Ages.
We recently found out that solar storms are having a big impact on the Earth’s Ozone layer which is the natural defensive mechanism against the radiation coming from the sunlight. Without this shield, the human skin would literally start frying under the natural sun.
Now that climate change is seen as a much bigger issue and more importance is given to finding a solution, experts are once again looking at the idea of an extinction event when it comes to redheads. The truth is that this is not possible, even in 100 years redheads will not go extinct, however, the population of redheads will significantly decrease due to global warming.
The recessive gene that brings out the ginger hair and pale skin cannot really die out as it will be carried by future generations, even if the organism chooses not to expose it or fall to selection pressure. Those with such pale skin are so much more sensitive to sunlight in general, without taking into consideration the major increase in temperature presented this summer.