BURN: Learn

Basics of Electricity and Circuits: How Energy Moves Through the Home


The first major use of electricity began in 1879, when Thomas Edison began installing incandescent lighting in notable locations like Wall Street in New York City. Edison wasn’t alone in his pursuit of electricity development, but he was the first to install integrated systems in conspicuous places.

August 5, 2011 more »

Petroleum, Natural Gas, and Coal

US Sources of Energy 2009

The world depends on fossil fuels for its energy, and the United States is no exception. The vast majority of U.S. energy — more than 80 percent in 2009 — comes from burning fossil fuels.

August 5, 2011 more »

Energy Efficiency, Principles of Consumption, and Conservation


When trying to lower your energy use, a good place to start is getting a picture of the many ways you use energy now. An average American uses more than four times as much energy per year than the global average, 308 million British thermal units (Btu) annually, compared to 73 million Btu per person per year globally,according to recent U.S. government estimates.

June 15, 2011 more »

Comparing Sources of Energy


An infographic chart of fossils and renewable energy types, comparing costs, sources, and environmental effects.

January 4, 2011 more »

Groundwater, the Water Cycle, and Depletion

Briones Reservoir in Northern California

Water is created and destroyed in natural chemical reactions within plants and animals. However, most water sticks around. It changes phases through the “water cycle”; it can become polluted with salt, toxic chemicals, or pathogenic organisms. However, it generally doesn’t go away, globally speaking.

November 29, 2010 more »

“Cap-and-Trade” and Carbon Tax Proposals


Often called “emission trading”, in a working cap-and-trade system, industries that release undesirable compounds into the air, water, or soil have limits of how much they can emit based upon pollution permits. Depending on the system, polluters either are given or have to buy their permits. The government establishes how much total pollution that the permits will grant, an umbrella cap on the economy. If an industry participant wants to release more than the permit allows, they buy the right from another industry player, if available, or perhaps face penalties, depending on the details.

November 28, 2010 more »