79 pages 2 hours read

Alan Gratz

Two Degrees

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2022

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Megafires, Hurricanes, and the Warming Arctic

Two Degrees is a work of fiction, but the stories mirror real climate-related disasters that have occurred in the 21st century. Gratz chose these particular disasters to show the wide-ranging ways that a changing climate can affect humans and other animals; each story could take place in a wide range of environments around the world. Wildfires are increasing in nearly every forested environment and dangerous encounters between humans and megafauna are increasing as the animals become more desperate and people encroach more and more into their natural range. Hurricanes have always affected populations in coastal environments, but stronger storms and increased populations means that storms are more destructive every year.

The fictional Morris Fire shows the effects of “megafires,” gigantic wildfires that are now a regular feature of drought-ridden environments like California. As discussed in the book, fires are a natural part of a forest’s life cycle, and many trees and other plants rely on the heat from fires to survive. A combination of issues has contributed to forest fires becoming bigger and more destructive in recent years, though. Many of these issues are human caused, including but not limited to, dry conditions caused by diversion of water for agricultural purposes, unbalanced woodland ecosystems due to over-logging, and human habitation in locations at high risk for fires.