I definitely believe climate change is real.
Here where I live, in the Blue Ridge mountains of western North Carolina, each summer seems to grow progressively hotter and longer, and each winter has been milder and shorter than the last (not that I mind this personally, since I really can’t stand cold weather). This fall has felt more like a continuation of summer than fall, and even at night the temperatures are still pretty warm. It’s also been extremely dry, and the trees, rather than turning colors, are going straight from green to brown to bare (not that the fall colors here, outside of the Blue Ridge Parkway, where the trees are chosen for their fall color, are that impressive anyway). Sometimes I feel like I live in Florida, not the mountains of North Carolina, where the climate should be temperate, not tropical.
I’ve noticed something very strange this year too, something that I’ve never seen before. Banana palms growing in people’s yards. Maybe it’s just a new fad, and people are planting them here, but I don’t think it’s just that. I think the climate has actually changed in the past few years, to a more subtropical (and less temperate) one, making it possible for banana palms to grow here.
I decided to look this up on Google, and found out that there is a such thing as cold hardy banana palms, that can withstand mild winters, even if the temperatures sometimes dip below freezing, as long as the trees are protected. So although they couldn’t grow in the wild (yet), they could grow and thrive in someone’s yard.
I looked up the climate type for western North Carolina and found out we are a Koppen Cfa climate (humid subtropical!) climate. Even more shocking was to find out that central to southern New Jersey is also a Cfa climate, making it possible to grow certain types of subtropical plants, including cold hardy banana palms, there too! I do know that many beaches at the Jersey Shore now have palm trees gracing them, but these trees are removed and taken somewhere else to spend the winters (I have no idea how that would be done) and then returned to New Jersey in late spring.
In general, North Carolina does not have palm trees, although there are many flowering evergreen species (these usually have dark, waxy leaves) here in the mountains, and palmetto trees (not a real palm tree but they are related to palms) growing in the coastal areas (the palmetto is also the state tree of South Carolina).
But this might be changing. I live 37 miles north of the South Carolina border, and almost as soon as you cross the line into that state, palmettos can be found everywhere. Banana palms are also common there. So we’re not far from the cutoff for tropical (or subtropical) types of plants. But I think the cutoff has moved farther north now, even into the lower mountains. That would make sense, with climate change being a factor. I haven’t seen any palmettos here yet, but I wonder if that’s just a matter of time.
If food shortages due to climate change ever become a problem, maybe I’ll plant some banana palms. Bananas are a fantastic source of nutrients and quick energy.