Electricity in Nature

The average person uses a lot of electricity in the many things they do every day. We are used to being able to turn on a light, watch the television, use our mobile devices, and stream music or videos. Because electricity is so much a part of our lives, we should know something about it.

Electricity is a natural occurrence that humans discovered and then converted for our use. We make use of power lines, but in nature we can see it in lightning storms, the animals that use it as a method for defending themselves, and even in our own bodes to send signals to our muscles.

Electricity in Lightning

Whenever you watch a lightning storm it’s both exhilarating and frightening. Lightning happens when there is a buildup of a large amount of electrostatic energy in the clouds from the energy created in storms.


When the electrically charged areas of the clouds discharge the energy we see a flash of electricity across the sky that is lightning. This can happen from cloud to cloud, cloud to ground, or even ground to cloud.

There is a reason that we need to be afraid of lightning because it carries huge amounts of electrical energy. A lighting strike can carry an electrical current of over 30,000 amps and delivery over 500 megajoules of energy.

When there is a lightning strike we hear the loud noise of thunder. The thunder is caused due to the air inside the lightning becoming so hot that it changes into plasma for a very short time. When these molecules change from gas in the air to plasma they expand and cause a shockwave that we hear as thunder.

Electricity in Animals

Some animals have developed the use of electricity as a way for their survival. Some of these animals are in the ocean and they use the electricity as a way to detect objects around them and to hunt for food. Other animals use their electricity to keep predators from attacking them.

One of the most successful animals for producing electricity is the electric eel. This eel can create large quantities of electricity that are great enough to stun a big horse or even kill a person. Electric eels usually swim into a school of fish, let off an electric discharge and stun or kill the fish for their food.

Some animals use electricity in a process called “electroreception.” Fish that use this include catfish, lampreys, and sharks, and they generate an electric field and then use this field as a detection method for their surroundings. In other words, they use electricity as a way to “see” in the dark and to sense other fish and creatures that could be their food.

Electricity in Our Bodies

Human beings are part of nature and we have electricity moving throughout our bodies. Every time you move a muscle it is caused by an electrical signal being sent from your brain to your muscle to tell it to move.

Our bodies have a very complex system of nerves that send signals to control our movements. These signals also include the electricity that keeps our hearts beating.

Static Electricity

Lightning is one form of electrostatic energy that exists in nature and static electricity is another one. Static electricity builds up charges all around us and then are released during the right circumstances.

You might have noticed this in dry or winter seasons when you walk across a carpet and then touch the metal on the refrigerator. The friction of walking allowed a buildup of static electricity and touching the metal discharged it, giving you a small shock.

Electricity in and around the Earth

Our Earth has huge electric currents deep inside that are created from the spin of the Earth’s iron core. The magnetic field that exists in our Earth is caused by the electrical currents and the field extends beyond the surface of the Earth into outer space.

The magnetic field is really important because it protects the Earth from the potential damages of the Sun’s solar wind. Without this protection there might not be any life on Earth. The magnetic field also helps us to tell direction when we use a compass.


What causes lightning?
when there is a buildup of a large amount of electrostatic energy in the clouds from the energy created in storms

Name an animal that has a lot of natural electricity?
electric eel

How does the human body use our natural electricity?
to communicate movement to muscles

What is static electricity?
a buildup of charges all around us and then are released during the right circumstances

What causes the electrical current inside the Earth?
the spin of the Earth’s iron core