Americans are using more energy, but green tech is softening the blow

It may be tough to satisfy the US' seemingly never-ending thirst for energy, but clean power sources are at least helping to soften the impact. Researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have determined that Americans' energy use climbed 1 percent year-over-year in 2014, but its carbon emissions hardly budged at all. In fact, they were down significantly for coal and petroleum-based power. While some of that decline is due to industry using less-than-clean natural gas, it's also helped by big jumps in solar and wind energy, which respectively grew by 33 and 8 percent.

These eco-friendly sources still represent just a tiny piece of the puzzle at 2.2 percent of the US' entire demand, so there's no doubt that dirty power still dominates. Scientists are quick to add that green tech is running into roadblocks, as well -- wind turbine deployments have slowed down in the past two years, and California's drought shrank the use of hydroelectric power. All the same, it's evident that environmentally conscious electricity is significant enough to mitigate the US' damage to the planet.

[Image credit: AP Photo/John Raoux]