Earth Science

Principles of Science

Evolution, Plate Tectonics, and Climate Change

Study Tip
To understand global warming better, compare it to a greenhouse. In a greenhouse, the glass on the ceiling traps the heat in the house the same way the atmosphere traps heat on Earth. (That’s why global warming can be known as the greenhouse effect!)

Theory of Evolution

  • Evolution is the change in the genetic makeup of a population of organisms over time, usually resulting in the formation of a new species.
  • Evolution is seen in many parts of Earth, such as the fossil record and in the developmental paths, geographic distribution, and genetic codes of organisms.
  • Natural selection, or “survival of the fittest,” is the mechanism for evolution. The organism that is best adapted to its environment will be most likely to survive and produce offspring, thus spreading its genes and making its successful traits more common in subsequent generations. This results in change to a new species or subspecies.
Study Tip
To understand global warming better, compare it to a greenhouse. In a greenhouse, the glass on the ceiling traps the heat in the house the same way the atmosphere traps heat on Earth. (That’s why global warming can be known as the greenhouse effect!)

Theory of Plate Tectonics

  • Plate tectonics explains why geological activity happens where it does and why many natural resources are found where they are.
  • Scientists use it to help determine what happened on Earth long ago.

Theory of Climate Change

  • Because of an increase in industrialism, people are burning more and more fossil fuels. These release greenhouse gases and trap heat in the atmosphere, increasing temperature on Earth and creating global warming.
  • The theory of climate change is a newer theory with very little information contradicting it.
diagram showing natural selection
A diagram showing how natural selection works.
Concept Check
  • Be able to identify and describe the three main theories that have stuck with scientists and are hard to disprove.
  • Be able to describe the global warming process.
  • Make sure you can define natural selection and evolution and describe their processes.