Well, now we are working our way to the halfway point of Intro to Evolution. And here is where it really gets interesting, because at this point frankly we have discussed all the nuts and bolts, the mechanisms, of evolution. It is mostly detail, mathematical and conceptual, that adds to the topic for the rest of the semester. However, the reality of the evolutionary process is understanding that it is happening right now. It isn't a topic about dinosaurs, or melanic moths, or how giraffes got their necks. What we are really getting into now is understanding why we may be moving into a "post-antibiotic" era, understanding which species will most likely survive ocean acidification and climate change, and exploring how to keep sustaining an agricultural system that so far has avoided Malthus' predictions that the human population could not keep growing as rapidly as it has.
Our class has been exploring these topics on the pages of this site, and yet the learning objectives for this class are very simple: understand the most basic mechanisms, and we will see how they apply to all of these complicated scenarios. By focusing on the most basic elements, we can see that there is essentially zero controversy about whether drift, selection, mutation, non-random mating, or migration cause a population to evolve. We can also see that humans are playing a huge role in causing these very evolutionary mechanisms to occur by limiting the population size of some species, by haphazardly applying selective agents like antibiotics, by moving species around the globe. In a way, it is a great time to be an evolutionary biologist, because there are so many experiments going on as we speak. We just didn't plan for most of them to happen!
Antibiotic resistance is a global problem! This article from the WHO explains what causes this resistance and how it affects our world.