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What is The Primary Source of Energy in America

Updated on October 8, 2009

The Great Nebula in Orion

My favorite star nursery...
My favorite star nursery...

What is Our Primary Source of Energy?

This question is as much a philosophical one as a scientific one. Your 8th grade science teacher, asking such a question, probably wants you to give “the sun” for an answer. The Hebrew scriptures rather agree on that score documenting the first act of creation with the energetic statement, “Let there be light!” Let’s take a look at how energy is delivered throughout the complex system that is the universe.


Living creatures are powered by the chemical processes at the basic level. Photosynthesis provides energy in most plants through a process that utilizes sun and water and minerals found in soil to create energy which is stored in the plant’s parts, it’s fruits and flowers and roots. Animals eat plants and that energy is transferred to the animals. Other animals eat the herbivores and that energy travels into the predators. Eventually, even the predators die and decay and provide food for the plants again in one long cycle. Without the sun, however, the cycle would not continue.


Other forms of energy also do things without which life would not be possible and even if life were absent, those energies would still be active. Gravity bends space and sticks things to the surface of planets and holds the planets in orbit round the sun so they don’t fly off and freeze in the darkness. The crushing force of gravity heats up the cores of planets to hellish temperatures, crushes stars into black holes and holds galaxies together. Gravity even has a role in turning on the stars in the first place.

Kinesthetic Energy

All things in the universe seem to be in motion. This motion is a form of energy. Without it, planets would drop straight into their stars, moons would plop down onto their planets and the International Space Station wouldn’t be in space very long. The energy of their motion around gravity centers like stars and planets and galaxies pulls them away from those vast centers of gravity. As much as planets are pulled toward the sun, their motion applies centrifugal force in the opposite direction to counterbalance gravity and there they hang in space, going round and round with creatures living upon them in some cases.

The Sun

The sun possesses a powerful argument for holding supremacy as the Earth’s primary source of power at any rate. Oil, coal, gas, geo-thermal, solar and wind energy all come directly or indirectly from the sun Ethanol owes it’s energy storing to photosynthesis which cannot happen without the sun. But there are lots of suns in the universe - galaxies full of them. They spin and turn and roar through the cosmos propelled by some great original force we can only make an educated guess at.

The Primary Source

It is at the smallest level that enormous energy is stored and from which the universe draws its power. Einstein’s famouse E=MC2 formula tells us that there is power locked up in each atom of every scrap of matter in the wide cosmos. It is this tiny little powerhouse and all of its brethren that power everything either directly or indirectly. Without the atom, stars wouldn’t light up, galaxies wouldn’t be formed, stellar systems wouldn’t coalesce and form planets and potted plants and fuzzy critters that eat and breathe and poop would never have set up shop upon them.

The Winner

The winner and still champion energy producer is the humble atom which bunches up with other atoms and creates gravity wells that collect other loose atoms till there is such a pile that they light up and explode and then turn into balls of flaming gas and roll up more dust into round balls and spin them around like some kind of galactic merry-go-round. Of course, it does make you wonder what put all that energy into all those atoms. The Hebrew scriptures may have had that one right too.

I'm just sayin'

Tom King


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