If the earth's oceans were electrocuted (from the ocean floor), not worrying about how the energy is gotten to electrocute it, what would happen too everything in the ocean,( fish, algae, etc.) what would happen to humans and land animals, and too the earths atmosphere.

The ocean gets electrocuted by about 5,000,000,000 trillion kWh spread out amongst 50,000 different electric distributors what will happen?

If this does not cause a large affect than how much electricity and distributors will be needed.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Xkcd had a "what if" about this explaining what would happen. what-if.xkcd.com/156 $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 24, 2020 at 0:38

1 Answer 1


Nothing will happen.

Consider a lightning rod. A lightning rod provides lightning with a conductive path from a spike atop the building or tree down to the earth. Rather than travel through the poorly conducting building and start a fire, electricity takes the easiest and most conductive path to the ground through the lightning rod and associated metal wire.

In your scenario, the salt water provides the most conductive path. Salt water is an excellent conductor of electricity. Things in the water will be less conductive than the salt water, and the electricity will go around them unless it hits something directly.


When lightning hits the sea, most of the electrical current spreads radially outward on the surface. Because seawater is a good conductor, the remaining current penetrates hemispherically downward and fully dissipates less than 10 feet below the surface. It is believed that lethal current spreads horizontally only 20 feet from the position of strike impact.

If a tremendous amount of electricity is poured into this endeavor, it will heat up the salt water like any other conductor. Water has a high heat capacity and it requires a lot of energy to raise the temperature of water a degree - more than just about any other substance. Most of the electrical energy will not go to raise the water temperature, but will pass through the water on the way to the earth.

There is much water in the ocean. It will take godlike amounts of energy to raise the temperature of the ocean any measurable amount.

  • $\begingroup$ hmmm well how does electrofishing work than? $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 24, 2020 at 0:26
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    $\begingroup$ I am 99.44% sure electrofishing is freshwater only. Fish are salty like us and so better conductors of electricity than fresh water. In fresh water the fish is the preferred path for electricity. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Commented Feb 24, 2020 at 0:29
  • $\begingroup$ ya I looked it up and that seems about right $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 24, 2020 at 0:33
  • $\begingroup$ Technically, this isn't true. Electricity will preferentially take a lower-resistance path, but some (proportional to the inverse of resistance, I believe) may still travel through fish and such. $\endgroup$
    – Matthew
    Commented Feb 24, 2020 at 15:27
  • $\begingroup$ This does not mention the effects of Electrolysis that may occur $\endgroup$
    – Muuski
    Commented Feb 24, 2020 at 22:01

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