You flick on the light switch and there you have light. Many humans take it for granted and assume that electricity will always be available when ever we need it, as long as we pay for it. Ever wonder where that electricity comes from? Sure the light switch but what's the bigger picture?You turn on the light switch and you have light, at the other end of that is a long grid mapped out to the source of the electricity that is generated to your home. Our main source of electricity in the United States comes from Fossil Fuels. According to the United States Department of Energy Fossil Fuels which consists of coal, oil and natural gas currently provide more than 85% of all the energy consumed in the United States, nearly two-thirds of our electricity, and virtually all of our transportation fuels.
It is likely that the nation's reliance on fossil fuels to power an expanding economy will actually increase over the next two decades even with aggressive development and deployment of new renewable and nuclear technologies as our population grows.
So what are fossil fuels? There are three major forms of fossil fuels: coal, oil and natural gas. All three were formed many hundreds of millions of years ago before the time of the dinosaurs which is where the name fossil fuels comes from. The age they formed in was called the Carboniferous Period and was part of the Paleozoic Era. "Carboniferous" gets its name from carbon which is the basic element in coal and other fossil fuels.
The carboniferous period occurred from about 360 to 286 million years ago. At that time, the land was covered with swamps filled with huge trees, ferns and other large leafy plants. The water and seas were filled with algae.