07/07/2014

Gingers Face Extinction

We all know about the potential effects of climate change; we're in for warmer summers and Margate could be under water. So it was looking OK. But new scientific thinking has predicted that the change in the UK's climate could see the extinction of... ginger people.

I should state my bias in this matter. When I grow a beard is includes some gingery material so I am a carrier.

The red hair gene is a mutation that gives a greater ability to produce vitamin D when there's not much sun. If we could find a way to splice that gene with solar panels we'd never need to burn coal again. The ginger hair gene also has other benefits like helping you work out when one son shouldn't be an heir to the throne.

If there's more sun in the UK the evolutionary advantage to the ginger gene could be lost and before we know it the red heads will hold the same place in our minds as the woolly mammoth.

Dr Alistair Moffat, managing director of Galashiels-based ScotlandsDNA, said: "We think red hair in Scotland, Ireland and in the North of England is adaptation to the climate. If it was to get less cloudy and there was more sun, then yes, there would be fewer people carrying the gene."

As a carrier of this gene I wondered why. Just because the extra vitamin D wouldn't be needed doesn't mean the red heads will be less likely to breed, right? But if it's sunny outside all the time I suppose they'd never get to leave the house to meet a mate.

The fact that it is a regressive gene and that stronger sun can affect the DNA through pale skin more, there is a case to be made that it will slowly die out. So, what do we do?

When the pandas can't be bothered to mate we spend billions trying to save them. When the spix macaw dwindled down to the last few remaining birds we organised a breeding program. So...

What I'm saying is, we need to set up a red head reserve where people with the ginger gene are helped to breed. They can be put together in their natural environment and encouraged to mate and if that doesn't work I'm sure we can set up some sort of pen. We should act now before it's too late.

Did I mention I carry the gene? I'm free most Wednesdays.

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