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Leaders: Condition red for ginger gene

There's a new fear we could soon run out of red haired people. Picture: Ian Rutherford

There's a new fear we could soon run out of red haired people. Picture: Ian Rutherford

LIFE SLINGS many outrageous arrows of fortune at people, but spare a thought for the gingers. They are the minority who will have carrot-coloured hair for all their lives.

Dyes may offer alternatives, but their pale skin, which floods with freckles at the hint of a sunbeam, labels them immediately.

While modern society wages battle on unkind prejudices, the red-haired have to be stoics. They learn from an early age that the blonde and brunette peoples regard them as different, a difference that will be pointed out to them frequently from the playground all the way through their time in the workplace. They discover that sun-worshipping should be low on their list of leisure pursuits and that summer holidays, unless spent exploring caves, means using copious quantities of Factor 50.

Now they are told they face extinction. Is there no end to the burdens of being a ginger?

This appears to be a quite unexpected consequence of climate change. Ginger characteristics appear to have evolved as a means of coping with Scotland’s formerly less than sunny climate, which generates less vitamin D than is normally desirable. Now that things are warming up, scientists speculate there is less need for the ginger gene, hence the extinction theory.

This is dreadful news. Scotland is luxuriantly endowed with gingers who make up 13 per cent of the population compared with a meagre 2 per cent in the rest of the world. Genetic science must rise to this challenge. Carroty characters are an essential part of the vibrancy of Scotland’s peoplescape, an integral thread in the warp and weft of multi-hued national life. They cannot be allowed to go the way of the dodo.

 

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