Alex Bowman (88) and Jimmie Johnson (48) lead the field to start the second of two NASCAR Daytona 500 qualifying auto races at Daytona International Speedway, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)

Heat wave in the Antarctic

There is good news and bad news about climate change and our adaptations to it.

First the bad news:

The temperature in Antarctica soared last week to nearly 70 degrees, appearing to topple another continental record set there just a few days earlier.

The Capitol Weather Gang and The Washington Post reported that a weather research station on Seymour Island in the Antarctic Peninsula registered a temperature of 69.3 degrees on Feb. 9.

That's in the land of ice, folks, on our planet's coldest continent.

And, according to the World Meteorological Organization, last weekend saw an iceberg about twice the size of District of Columbia — about 136 square miles — break from the Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica.

Now the good news:

Some Republicans have seen the light. They can now say the words "climate change."

In Florida, one of the most climate threatened states, Rep. Chris Sprowl began the blasphemous turn last fall in a speech designating him the next speaker of the Florida House: "We need to stop being afraid of words like 'climate change' and 'sea level rise'." You think?

The same thing is happening (shhhh) in Washington, D.C., where top GOP officials are preparing their own climate legislation in response to concerns from young Republicans who say the party has been ignoring the issue.

Gee, it must be election season.


But NASCAR gets it

NASCAR, on the other hand, sees the engines of the future.

The NASCAR Cup Series's 2020 season got underway Sunday at the Daytona 500. The country's most popular motorsport — and especially here in the South — is revving its engines for the sharpest turn in its 72-year history — a shift to hybrid, battery-assisted engines.

Don't worry, fans. Your ear-splitting muscle roar will still be there — with a little extra help from an added battery-powered component that, on certain tracks, "complements rather than replaces" the current engines that get about 6 mpg, NASCAR President Steve Phelps told The Washington Post.

More shifts will come as hybrid technology evolves, and the full turn is expected as early as 2023.

The change is imperative if NASCAR hopes to stay relevant to Ford, Chevrolet and Toyota, the automakers that drive the sport, Phelps said.

Tee-hee. Can't you see those cute little Priuses doing burnouts on the finish line?

But we digress.


TVA may finally get it

The Tennessee Valley Authority has crawled out of the coal mines and begun looking to the sun for more of its power in the future. The federal utility announced last week that it is boosting its solar energy capacity by 44% from a year ago by adding 484 megawatts of new contracted solar generation. That will include a $200 million solar farm near Columbus, Mississippi, that would both generate and store electric power.

"This is the first time that we're announcing a solar project that is at the right price that if customers want it, we can offer this renewable power to them, and if not enough customers want this power we will buy it for our system needs," said Doug Perry, TVA's vice president of commercial energy solutions. "And it will come with a 50-megawatt battery — our first utility-scale battery."

TVA also has begun studying whether to buy 2,474 acres in Alabama near Muscle Shoals to build up to a 227-megawatt solar farm — the biggest solar generation project owned by TVA.

And, hey, guys. How about Bellefonte?

The downside is that TVA will at the same time shift away from from its earlier support for small rooftop solar power. Critics claim the change will limit the growth of a key element in solar power generation, but TVA says the new policy will better support its Green Invest program, which delivers renewable energy to customers like Google, Facebook and Amazon that are increasingly demanding it.

Be bold. Do it all.