5 Things to Know About Europe's Scorching Heatwave
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5 Things to Know About Europe’s Scorching Heatwave

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5 Things to Know About Europe’s Scorching Heatwave

5 Things to Know About Europe’s Scorching Heatwave

For the last few months, Europe’s smoldering heatwave has been wreaking havoc across the region, causing destructive wildfires, severe droughts, and thousands of deaths.

The EU’s record-breaking temperatures are making headlines around the world, as experts worry these extreme heatwaves could be the region’s new normal.

Given the volume of coverage on the topic, we sifted through dozens of articles and Twitter threads (so you don’t have to) and complied a list of the five major things to know about Europe’s smothering heatwave.

① High Temperatures are Shattering Records

Temperatures have been hitting all-time highs across the region.

On Monday, July 18, dozens of towns across France reported record-breaking temperatures of up to 42°C (107.6°F). In the same week, the UK experienced its hottest day on record at 40.3°C (104.5°F), breaking Britain’s previous record of (38.7°C) 101.7°F that was set back in 2019.

The heat in London was so unprecedented, the city’s national rail service issued a warning to the public, urging passengers to stay home and only travel if necessary. Some major rail lines were even closed for parts of the day on Tuesday, July 19.

② Europe is Feeling the Burn

The smoldering heat is fueling disastrous wildfires across the continent. As of July 20, an estimated 1,977 wildfires have blazed across the region in 2022—almost 3x the average amount, according to historical data from the European Forest Fire Information System.

Mediterranean countries have been hit particularly hard, with thousands of people in Portugal, Spain, and France evacuating their homes.

③ Going With the (Low) Flow

Along with the devastating wildfires, Europe’s heatwave is also causing a series of droughts across the region.

While most European cities have at least one river or lake crossing their urban landscape, these rivers and bodies of water are at risk of drying out. For instance in early July, Italy’s Po River was experiencing a drought so severe, that the country’s government issued a state of emergency in five different regions.

④ Energy Demands are Creating an Awkward Situation

Last year, Europe set ambitious goals to cut 55% of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

But, in the wake of a global energy crisis, many European countries have put their green transition plans on hold as they turn to “dirtier” fuels like coal to keep their economies running business-as-usual. This timing is a tad awkward, considering the fact the region is currently ablaze with record-breaking temperatures that experts believe are human-induced.

The aforementioned “low flow” on many European rivers are also impacting hydroelectricity and even nuclear electricity generation, as too little water is available for cooling purposes.

On the bright side, at least Germany has made some progress in the realm of renewable energy—on July 17, the country generated a record-breaking amount of electricity from solar panels.

⑤ Climate Change is a Factor, but Heatwaves are Complicated

Experts claim that climate change is playing a part in these record-breaking heatwaves. Around the world, global surface temperatures have risen by about 1.0°C (1.8°F) since the 1850s, and scientists claim this temperature increase has been indisputably influenced by human activity.

However, there may be other factors that are influencing these extreme heatwaves. While the exact specifics are difficult to nail down due to the variable nature of the climate, a recent study published in Nature Communications found that Europe’s escalating heatwaves could be partly attributed to changing air currents, which are blowing hot air from North Africa to Europe.

The Bottom Line

At least 1,500 lives have been lost so far amidst this record-breaking heatwave. And since temperatures are expected to remain high across the region for at least another week, this figure will likely increase.

European homes are generally not well equipped for exceptionally high temperatures, and since the continent has the oldest median age of any region, its population is particularly susceptible to the negative effects of extreme weather.

Livelihoods are also being impacted by the extreme weather. Temperatures are drying out soil, which is creating poor growing conditions for corn farmers in France, Romania, and Spain, the region’s top corn producers.

Long story short—Europe’s heatwave is having disastrous effects on its economy and infrastructure, as well as the overall wellbeing of the region’s population.

Update: The map from cool.wx was revised to better reflect Europe’s present day borders.

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Environment

The Construction Industry’s Growing Waste Problem

Globally around 2 billion tonnes of waste is generated every year and the construction industry is a large contributor.

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The following content is sponsored by Northstar Clean Technologies

The Construction Industry’s Growing Waste Problem

Globally around 2 billion tonnes of waste is generated every year and the construction industry is a large contributor.

What’s more, demand for construction materials is growing alongside population and economic development, but the production of new materials to support this growth consumes both energy and resources.

The above infographic from Northstar Clean Technologies highlights the final destinations of construction and demolition (C&D) debris.

Breaking Down Waste

The sad truth is that only a small amount of C&D debris that could be repurposed actually is.

So where do these materials end up? Let’s take a look at the breakdown of C&D debris by destination in 2018, recorded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Material C&D Debris Type (million tons)LandfillCompost & Mulch Manu. Products Aggregate, Other Fuel Soil Amend.
Concrete71.2032.8301.200
Wood29.62.51.207.50
Gypsum Drywall13.200.2001.9
Metal 1.103.6000
Brick and Clay Tile10.8001.500
Asphalt Shingles13020.10.020
Asphalt Concrete4.9091.810.300

143.8 million tons of C&D waste was sent to landfill in 2018, consisting of a mix of materials ranging from wood, concrete, and asphalt.  

Concrete was the highest repurposed C&D material while other materials like asphalt shingles were primarily sent to landfill. In fact, 86% of total asphalt shingles waste was dumped in landfills in 2018, where they do not decompose or biodegrade. Asphalt shingles are a material found on the roofs of approximately 75% of homes in the U.S. and Canada.

All in all, the average U.S. home can generate around 3-4 tonnes of tear-off waste during a common renovation process, such as re-roofing.

The Benefits of Repurposing Materials

Repurposing materials reduces waste while being both energy and cost-efficient.

The global asphalt market is growing, expected to reach $321.5 million by 2027, a CAGR of 4.8% compared to 2020. With this expected growth, repurposing asphalt shingles is not only a big business opportunity but a path forward to reducing the environmental impact of the construction industry. 

By repurposing materials like asphalt shingles, the waste that goes into landfills can be reduced.

Northstar Clean Technologies reprocesses waste asphalt shingles to target three main sectors: road paving, flat roof manufacturing, and new shingle manufacturing.

Find more on how Northstar Clean Technologies repurposes asphalt shingles by clicking here now.

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How Much Waste Does a Renovation Create?

600 million tons of C&D debris was generated in the U.S. in 2018 alone. What materials contribute to renovation waste?

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The following content is sponsored by Northstar Clean Technologies

How Much Waste Does a Renovation Create?

In 2020, the U.S. home remodeling market surpassed a massive $340 billion and is predicted to continue rising at a compound annual growth rate of over 4.1% between 2021 and 2027, according to Global Market Insights.

The problem is home renovations produce a significant amount of waste. In fact, renovations can generate approximately 60 pounds of waste per square foot on average.

With this expected growth in the remodeling market, contractors will need to find new ways to repurpose renovation waste that would otherwise end up in landfill.

In this graphic by Northstar Clean Technologies, we show how much waste can be generated as a result of construction and demolition debris during renovations and how it can be reduced.

Construction and Demolition Waste

Construction and demolition (C&D) debris is estimated to make up nearly one-quarter of the total waste generated in the U.S. in a single year. 

Let’s take a look at the breakdown of total construction and demolition debris recorded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2018.

 Waste During Construction
(million tons)
Demolition Debris
(million tons)
Total C&D Debris
(million tons)
Concrete24.2381.0405.2
Wood Products3.437.440.8
Drywall and Plasters3.911.315.2
Steel04.74.7
Brick and Clay Tile0.312.012.3
Asphalt Shingles1.213.915.1
Asphalt Concrete0107.0107.0
Total33.0567.3600.3

In 2018, an estimated 600 million tons of C&D debris was generated in the U.S alone. With the remodeling market growing, this number will only continue to rise—and materials contributing to renovation waste can range from concrete to wood and plasters.

Asphalt shingles are among the seven largest contributors to C&D debris, a material that can be found on approximately 75% of homes in the U.S. and Canada. 

During a common renovation process, such as re-roofing, the average U.S. home can generate around 3-4 tonnes of tear-off waste.

Technologies Repurposing Waste

More than 90% of used asphalt shingles, equivalent to around 12 million tons, are dumped into landfills in the U.S every year. With oil as its primary component, asphalt shingles are especially harmful to the environment when discarded.

The environmental impact of discarded renovation materials can be avoided through technologies that repurpose these materials such as asphalt shingles.

Northstar Clean Technologies recovers and reprocesses the three primary components of asphalt shingles. The outputs are then sold back into the market as repurposed materials such as liquid asphalt, aggregates, and fiber for use in road construction, embankments, and new shingles. 

Northstar Clean Technologies can reduce the impact of renovation waste on the environment. Find more about repurposing asphalt shingles by clicking here now.

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