Green energy was a focal point at the seventh annual National Clean Energy Summit.

Ideas from the National Clean Energy Summit

The National Clean Energy Summit was held in Las Vegas in early August, bringing together clean energy visionaries and leaders to work on reducing our country's carbon footprint. Former U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton spoke at the summit and warned of the risks of unabated greenhouse gas emissions. 

"Climate change is the most consequential, urgent, sweeping collection of challenges we face," Clinton said at the convention. "The threat is real, and so is the opportunity … if we make the hard choices."

Politics aside, taking care of our planet is an international problem. Sea levels continue to rise, ice caps are melting and droughts have reached record numbers in the last decade. In fact, 13 of the top 14 warmest years have come since 2000, the former secretary of state said. 

Clinton urged that the U.S. can become a renewable energy "superpower" and lead by example. To achieve that, we'll have some serious work to do. There is still tremendous waste of energy resources, and America's consumption of fossil fuels remains far too high. 

Currently, Germany is ranked as the No. 1 most energy-efficient country, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Italy came in a close second and even China scored in the top five. The International Energy Efficiency Scorecard took into account everything from fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks to power efficiency standards for household appliances to industry advantages. 

The U.S. ranked 13th, scoring best in the buildings category, while lagging behind in transportation. 

"The United States has made some progress toward greater energy efficiency in recent years, particularly in areas such as building codes, appliance standards, voluntary partnerships between government and industry, and, recently, fuel economy standards for passenger vehicles and heavy-duty trucks," the report added. However, the nation will need to make some serious changes to accelerate its path. 

One way to expedite this change is through carbon tax, which is a tax levied on the carbon content of fuels. According to The Tennessean, the carbon tax is widely accepted as the most economically efficient and cost-effective way to reduce CO2 emissions. It would essentially force companies and business to pay a price for carbon pollution as a way to control climate change.  

Like the leaders at the National Clean Energy Summit, Ilchi Lee is a strong advocate for a sustainable world. By focusing on the brain as determinant for human behavior, Lee is confident that we can unite for the creation of a peaceful, sustainable way of life within the century. 

Two people meditate in the park.

Ilchi Lee and Nature Meditation

In a recent video titled "Sedona Nature Meditation: Become One with the Serenity of Nature," Ilchi Lee talks about how reaching the summit of a mountain is like reaching that calm, quiet place inside your brain.

"From here, you can see things that are normally too far away," the video presentation says. "You can sense things you may have ignored."

Focusing on the key energy inside you, your mind can naturally become calm and surreal.

Getting Back to Nature
Meditating out in nature is rejuvenating on several levels. Getting back to greenery has a soothing effect on the mind, especially after spending long hours in the office or other indoor spaces.

Whether you're on top of a summit or in your forested backyard, nature can serve as the focal point for mindful meditation. Find a comfortable position sitting or lying down. Start with a few deep breaths, then close your eyes and bring yourself to the sensations of the present moment. Hear the blue bird's song in the distance; smell the leaves and the fresh rain; feel the wind blowing gently against your cheeks.

Pay close attention how your body feels – this is your chance to reconnect your mind and body to the beauty and fragility of your natural surroundings.

When your mind begins to wander, bring it back to the experience of nature. Try focusing in great depths on a single detail: If you hear a bird's call, notice the texture of it and how it resonates in your ears. Avoid labeling the sensations. It may seem to have a shape.

As with any form of meditation, breathing plays a key part. Inhale and exhale in an easy, deep rhythm. Focus on breathing through your diaphragm instead of with your shoulders.

When you feel ready, inhale deeply and open your eyes again. Scan the landscape, from the dirt to trees to flowers to animals and leaves. Any time spent in nature can serve as a form of meditation.

Listen to what your heart tells you. You don't have to stay idle if you don't want to! Some meditators like to stand up and go for a little walk through forested trails. Simply being in nature provides an opportunity to realign yourself with some of the deepest roots of being. Just remember to stay focused on nature.

About 75 percent of Ljubljana is made up of green space.

What We Can Learn From Europe’s New Green Capital

Ljubljana, Slovenia, recently won the 2016 European Green Capital Award, given annually by the European Commission to cities that set a high-bar example of sustainable urban development. While many may never have heard of Ljubljana, we have a lot to learn from them. 

Ljubljana: Leader of Sustainability
The city is the capital of Slovenia, and the political, administrative, cultural and economic center of the region. It's home to more than 280,000 inhabitants. In the last decade, it has evolved into a thriving urban center with an exemplary dedication to sustainability and minimal environmental impact.

The streets of Ljubljana used to be dominated by gas-guzzling cars and trucks. Now, one can see residents taking advantage of public transportation as well as pedestrian and cycling networks. The European Commission reported that the most significant change has been the modification of the traffic regime on the main traffic artery of Slovenska Street.

The Mobility Plan, adopted in 2012, aims to equalize use of the city's public transportation with cars and non-motorized modes by 2020. It has already helped increase public travel to nearly 28 percent. 

Addressing Climate Change
Ljubljana has also emerged as a leader in confronting climate change. The city ambitiously proposed plans to reduce emissions by up to 80 percent by 2050, a goal that reflects the city's commitment to transparency concerning environmental data. As testament, the World Summit Award, a United Nations initiative, chose Ljubljana's Thermal Power Plant as one of the world's five best practices in the area of environmental protection and health for its communication with residents about its emissions and effects on health and the environment. 

Rapid Urbanization
For the first time ever, the majority of the world's population lives in cities, according to the World Health Organization. Even 100 years ago, only 2 out every 10 people lived in an urban area, yet by 2050, more than 7 out of 10 people are expected to live in a city.

Ljubljana's steps toward energy efficiency align with the messages of Ilchi Lee, an advocate of a peaceful, sustainable world. Lee expressed some of his concerns about climate in "The Call of Sedona: Journey of the Heart."

"The clock of civilization is moving much faster than all of us expected, and the earth's environment is losing its balance at a shocking rate," Lee wrote.

With such a rapid urbanization process, it's important for individuals, communities, states and nations to set goals regarding energy efficiency and minimizing the carbon footprint.

Following Ljubljana's Example
In recent years, there have been hundreds of projects that have improved quality of life and environment. For example, about three-quarters of the city consists of green space. Between 2008 and 2012, the city created almost 100 acres of new parks – that adds up to a whopping 6,027 square feet of green space per inhabitant. 

Two million trips have been made on the public bike program since 2011. Furthermore 3,500 waste containers have been replaced by 51 underground waste collectors. 

Perhaps we can find new ideas and inspiration to help minimize our carbon footprint, for there is no doubt the citizens of Ljubljana are setting a precedent for the rest of the world to follow. 

Solar panels are no longer for the rich and famous.

Turning Old Batteries into Solar Cells

Leave it to scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to develop a way to turn environmental damage into a going green poster child.

The researchers proposed a system that recycles materials from discarded car batteries into new, long-lasting solar panels that provide emissions-free power.

Ilchi Lee, an advocate of a sustainable world, points out that car batteries are typically a big source of lead and harmful acids, which, when not disposed of properly, can contaminate the environment. At the beginning of this process, the raw ores that produce lead can create toxic residues. However, by implementing recycled lead from old car batteries, manufacturers can prevent buildup of toxic material from landfills and reuse it in photovoltaic panels.

The system, published in the journal Energy and Environmental Science, is based on an up-and-coming technology in solar cells that highlights a compound called perovskite, which are cheap, stable and highly efficient solar cells. The novel photovoltaic reached an energy-conversion efficiency of 19 percent and was stable for over 1,000 hours under full sunlight. As such, this compound is surging into the marketplace as a viable option, allowing scientists to make use of it with used car parts.

In the meantime, you can exchange old car batteries at a retailers that sells new batteries. The majority of these retail outlets collect used batteries for recycling. Or, you can take your old car batteries to a local household hazardous waste facility.

Turning off the faucet while you're brushing your teeth can save gallons of water each month.

6 Simple Ways to Reduce Your Environmental Impact

Brainstorming ways to minimize your carbon footprint? You've come to the right place. As much as we don't like to admit it, food, water, gas – the world's natural resources – are limited. Ilchi Lee, advocate of a peaceful, sustainable world, urges that, person by person, we can create change. By making an impact, we can reduce our impact. 

1. Turn Thermometer Up 2 Degrees in Summer, Down 2 in Winter
Heating and cooling accounts for a large percentage of a household's energy consumption. In fact, these services cost more money than any other system in your home – typically totaling about 48 percent of your utility bill, according to Energy.gov.

So, save money year-round by turning up your thermometer in warm weather. An average thermostat temperature for warmer weather is around 77 degrees Fahrenheit. If you're not at home during the day, you can increase the temperature to reduce cooling costs.

Turn your thermometer down in cooler weather. About 68 degrees Fahrenheit is an average winter temperature, depending on your climate of course. Each degree below the 68 mark reduces 3 to 5 percent more heating energy consumption.

2. Plant a Tree
Trees are carbon dioxide's Kryptonite. Oak, maple, apple – no matter the type of tree, it absorbs tons of carbon dioxide – the gas that's contributing to climate change – during its lifetime. 

They also emit oxygen, making your neighborhood a bit fresher place to breathe.

3. Recycle Paper, Glass, Plastic and Anything Else
The importance of recycling cannot be understated. It conserves raw materials, turning used goods into new products. Put another way, by recycling, you are keeping something alive longer.

Instead of throwing away junk mail, recycle it. Rather than tossing empty milk jugs, recycle them. If you're getting rid of glass bottles, recycle them!

4. Don't Waste Water
Scientists agree that in the 21st century water will become the world's most precious limited resource. So, conserve when you can. 

Brushing your teeth takes two minutes. During that two minutes, valuable water may be spiraling down the drain. Turn the faucet off after wetting your brush, and turn it back on to clean your brush. That alone could save 4 gallons a minute. Add that up for a family of four and you've saved 200 gallons a week.

5. Install Low-Flow Aerators 
Low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators can reduce your home water consumption as much as 50 percent, cutting your energy cost of heating the water by as much as 50 percent. This is a great way to conserve water and save money.

6. Carpool, Walk or Bike
Team up with a roommate or colleague to carpool to work every day. Not only will this save you money on gas, it will produce less emissions. In the last year, roughly 85 million gallons of gas was saved by carpooling, according to Commuter Solutions. 

Biking to work is another good alternative. It's another win-win – you get a workout and the environment gets a breathe of fresh air.

With these steps, you can start to optimize your energy efficiency and help preserve the earth's natural resources.

When it comes to climate change, boundary lines between countries fade away.

New App Streamlines Sustainability Tips

When it comes to protecting earth's natural resources, we all have to do our part. And as technology becomes more advanced, it may help us work our way through the planet crisis.

With this in the forefront of their minds, an Arizona State University graduate and professor launched a social media app aimed to inspire people to take action to improve the conditions of planet earth. 

The app is called "eEcosphere," and it encourages collaboration between individuals on everything from heavy climate change topics to sustainability tips. More specifically, eEcosphere enables people to share and comment on one another's suggestions on articles like "how to do your laundry better" and "3 ways to reduce your impact when eating out."

"Sustainability is a human challenge," George Basile, co-founder of eEcosphere and a professor at ASU's School of Sustainability, told Arizona Central News. "It's a human problem. The social feature really builds on the idea of helping people, thereby helping global challenges."

The eEcosphere app lets you exchange action-worthy ideas with your friends and adopt the ones that connect with you. It can even help develop and materialize ideas by linking one another with the resources and people that can make it happen. The app also partners with business, sustainable operations and government entities to enrich content. 

For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture provided information about flowers specific to each region, so users could figure out what to plant in their areas.

Andrew Krause, app co-founder and an ASU graduate, said his goal is to disseminate information on environment friendly concerns that can allow people to do things in their everyday routine – which often add up being the most impactful - more sustainably.

He said climate change is a pervasive issue for everyone, especially the Millennial generation. That's why Krause figured the technological platform of an app would be suitable. 

Ilchi Lee, an advocate of a sustainable world, couldn't agree more with Krause's principles. Lee constantly drives home the point that we are all part of this world together – and we are all earth's citizens. When it comes to climate change and lack of natural resources, the boundary lines between communities, states, countries fade away. There is only one group, and that is us. 

A woman strikes a yoga pose.

Comparing Healing Touch and Regular Meditation

Many people are looking for energy methods for healing. 

A simple touch from one person to another has been shown to promote a sense of trust and teamwork, but there is a little-heard of practice that incorporates the sense in a different way. It's called healing touch. 

Like many others, Anita Kiger, from Dover, Delaware, needed a change when she reached her mid 50s. She had constant back and neck pain and longed for new inspiration. 

She found it only 15 minutes away from her house at a meditation studio. From licensed professionals, Kiger started receiving healing touch, which combines meditation with physical touch to focus on parts of the body that are stressed or in pain. 

The method, a relaxing, nurturing energy therapy, helps bolster well-being by massaging energy into the body. In this way, the physical touch stimulates blood flow, playing a role in delivering essential nutrients to the area in pain. 

"When you're sick or in surgery or there's some kind of illness going on there, energy fields are out of balance," Dr. Frances Zappalla, a pediatric cardiologist certified in integrative medicine, told Delaware Online News Journal.

Although Zappalla said she was skeptical at first, after working with a number of patients with such healing touch practices, she said she sees real benefits. 

Zappalla emphasized the importance of the connection between the mind and body. Similar to practicing meditation and striking yoga poses, healing touch reduces blood pressure and heart rate. However, unlike these practices, healing energy has not been measured quantitatively in a reliable way, according to the University of Minnesota.  

There have been countless studies done on regular meditation benefits and the stress relief provided by yoga practices, but healing touch has not had a large body of research for proper testing. 

A big reason why integrative medicine might be effective in general relates to lifestyle choices, the cardiologist said. Healthy eating and mindfulness play a big role – instead of reaching for a cheeseburger, opt for the chicken salad, and instead of concentrating on negative thoughts throughout the day, try to harness uplifting experiences and positive self-reinforcement. 

Ilchi Lee, a master of meditation and The New York Times best-selling author, explains that every individual should find a relaxation technique that works for him or her. According to ancient Chinese practice, the body is made of channels, like veins, through which energy flows. When these channels become blocked from things like an injury, exploring healing treatments with yoga and meditation can prove instrumental in tearing down the energy blockades to feel like yourself again. 

Ilchi Lee recently visited Kerikeri, New Zealand.

Ilchi Lee Visits New Zealand, a Magnet for Meditation

As The New York Times best-selling author and acclaimed philosopher, Ilchi Lee has been frequenting Kerikeri, the largest town in Northland New Zealand.

In June, Lee visited Kerikeri for the second time, and he plans to return for a three-month-long stay. He says that Kerikeri, with Rainbow Falls, the friendly people and the peacefulness, is a magnet for meditation.

Of course, setting has a lot to do with mindful meditation. Reaching a sense of calm is given a big helping hand from the soothing, relaxing environment in which one practices. Kerikeri, a subtropical paradise, aptly fits the bill.

The 63-year-old South Korean has followers from all corners of the world. He combines the Korean Taoist tradition, known as Sun Do, with neuroscience and environmental wisdom, and he has written 36 books, many of which have been translated into several languages.

Becoming a Fun Person
All of us have gone through the struggle of figuring out who we really are and what we want to do with our lives. For Lee, becoming happier all starts with living in the here and now, and embracing life for what is rather than what it appears to be on the surface.

When you look at someone you think is fun, what characteristics do they have? Outgoing, generous, adventurous? No matter your personality, Lee says, you can become a "fun" person – someone who makes their existence beautiful.

"Becoming a fun person isn't hard to do," Lee told the New Zealand newspaper Stuff.co.nz. "Right now, at this very moment, change how you smile, how you speak, how you walk and how you breathe. Practice it every day, in every moment. Smile, talk about good news, walk with a spring your step and breathe."

From Struggle to Success
As a child, Lee grappled with the problem of attention deficit disorder. When he was a teenager he turned to the martial art taekwondo to help ease his restless mind. Although he initially didn't pass his college entrance exam, Lee ended up graduating with a degree in clinical pathology and opening a clinical pathology practice. Through meditation, Lee was able to fight off the problems of ADD, and he began to teach methods of meditation to classes gathered in a community park.

The classes were the starting point of a lifelong journey, as Lee has since opened hundreds of Dahn Centers in South Korea and the U.S.

When the entrepreneur visits places like Kerikeri, he sees a human potential that transcends national boundaries. One of Lee's biggest messages is that we should all consider ourselves citizens of the earth. Lee believes that peace can only be achieved if humanity gives up nationalistic identities and becomes more self-sufficient in health care. Instead of over-relying on pharmaceuticals and specialized health care, we should rediscover the natural means of health maintenance.

Lee notes that our minds are the driving force of our happiness. We have a lot of external and internal noise – people telling us one thing, and our minds telling us another. Get rid of the cluster and fill it with good news. Through meditation, we can learn to work with our minds instead of against them and form relationships between one another to build a stronger future.

Air travel emissions account for about 5 percent of warming, according to The New York Times.

What Air Travel Does to the Environment

We hear endless talk about the carbon emissions left by cars and trucks on the road. But what about the greenhouse gases emitted from airplanes? 

According to The New York Times, a round-trip flight from New York to San Francisco generates a warming effect equivalent to 2 or 3 tons of carbon dioxide per person. 

The average American creates about 19 tons of carbon dioxide a year. So, if you take five long flights each year, they may add up to three-quarters of the emissions you make.

Although air travel emissions currently account for 5 percent of warming – there are hundreds of thousands more auto vehicles than airplanes, not to mention the devastating impact of coal power plants – that number is projected to rise significantly. This is because the volume of air travel is growing faster than gains in flight fuel efficiency. 

"For many people in New York City, who don't drive much and live in apartments, this is probably going to be by far the largest part of their carbon footprint," Anja Kollmuss, a Zurich-based environmental consultant, told The New York Times.

What the FAA is Doing About It
But it's not all gray skies. 

In late June 2014, the U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx awarded a $442,500 Federal Aviation Administration grant to Denver International Airport to cut emissions and improve air quality at the airport through the FAA's Voluntary Airport Low Emission program.

VALE is designed to lower all sources of airport ground emissions in all areas of marginal air quality.

"This program supports President Obama's efforts to combat carbon pollution and reduce aviation's emissions footprint," said Secretary Foxx. "These funds will help airports around the country make the necessary investments to reduce fuel costs and help protect our health and the environment."

Since 2005, the FAA has funded a total of 66 VALE projects at 34 airports

For the Denver airport, the project will allow planes shut off their auxiliary power units while parked at the gate and link up to a cleaner cooling and heating system. All of this will save fuel and help improve air quality by reducing emissions. 

Through the VALE program, airports have sliced ozone emissions by about 466 tons per year, which is about the same as removing 26,000 trucks off the road each year. 

A strong advocate for a sustainable world, Ilchi Lee, remarks that there's no doubt that these are steps in the right direction for leaving a smaller carbon footprint. We just have to be more conscious about where we fly to, and the efficiency of our travel.

Although Millennials are less likely than older adults to describe themselves as environmentalists, they are the most sustainability-conscious generation yet.

Millennials on Sustainability

People born from 1980 to 2000, also referred to as the millennials or generation Y, will bear the brunt of the environmental burden as climate concerns are dumped on them from previous generations. So, in an effort to spur action and hear their perspective, strong advocate of a sustainable world, Ilchi Lee, among others, wants to find out what these problem-solvers are thinking, and how they might take action.

A recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center suggests while millennials are the most sustainability-conscious generation yet, they don't call themselves "environmentalists." In fact, only 32 percent of Americans in generation Y see themselves as environmentalists, compared to 42 percent of Americans between the ages of 49 and 64 (born between 1965 and 1980), and 44 percent of those born after 1945.

Based on the younger generations' attitudes, it's likely that millennials simply reject the label of "environmentalist." Despite this, gen Yers are more likely to attribute global warming to human activity, more supportive of stricter environmental laws and more likely to favor environmentally friendly polices such as tax incentives for hybrid vehicles and green energy development. 

But getting the word out isn't the main problem. But before talking turns into action, accurate and relevant news needs to spread among the generation to get an incentive in motion. Right now, although almost every American has heard about climate change, even intellectual, forward-thinking youth are disengaged from the topic. 

University of Santa Barbara sustainability director Kathleen Merrigan recently hosted a panel about what the millennial generation thinks about biobased sustainability. In the discussion, the young people talked about the importance of social media and especially short video message to reach them. There are many stories that need telling, and getting them engaged in the learning process can be very effective.

"What they're doing is trying to teach young people to be storytellers," she said in a press release. "We'd like to send our students out to farms and help tell the story of American agriculture."

Indeed, sharing tales can come in the form of social media, since it shares plenty of ground with sustainability. Through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media sites, we are able to capture and share moments in real time, sowing a tapestry of individual and shared experience. Although often posts may be trivial, the monumental ones stand a chance at influencing the viewer. Pictures on "Make Every Day Earth Day," links to eco-friendly videos and referendums to limit deforestation can all make a difference.

For Brain Education and Peace