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Jeff Vaughan is a geologist in Bakersfield.

It’s hard to imagine public confidence in politicians could drop any lower, but they tend to grab hold of other institutions and professions they occasionally find useful dragging them down into their political pig pen. As the slightly crude saying goes, “If you dabble in a pig pen, you’re going to get some on you.”

Walter Cronkite, a prominent news anchor in the last century, used to say, “And that’s the way it is.” Most believed him as he proved himself a straight shooter and didn’t raise our suspicion of bias. Certain newspapers that used to be highly regarded are now blatantly political and exclude opposing points of view, attempting to dehumanize the other 50 percent of the nation. As a result, public confidence in the accuracy of “news” is abysmal and it is deeply deserved.

The coronavirus pandemic has pulled science into a similar trap. We’ve heard masks don’t work, masks do work, don’t take a vaccine or remedy that one politician likes, or do because another politician is yelling at you to “follow the science.” Regardless of where you stand, it’s my contention that science has two black eyes. This is nothing new as politicians have used science as a weapon throughout history. Speaking of history, it too has been sullied in our current politics. What version of history do you prefer and what research have you done to form your own opinions?

What to make of all of this? Be skeptical of what you choose to believe. Before you repeat something you casually browsed or heard, do some basic research and build your own opinion. Don’t blindly trust large bureaucratic and political bodies with your best interests. When you catch them in an act of bias, or worse, hold them accountable by not trusting them again and pay attention when something seems fishy. You have instincts for a reason.

Geologists study the record of the earth through all scientific means and are taught to analyze all available data. We have a lot to study as it’s not disputed that the earth is roughly 4.54 billion years old or that the earth has been much colder and much warmer than it currently is. We know CO2 levels have been much higher throughout the majority of Phanerozoic geologic history (the last approximately 540 million years) than they are currently (search “CO2 levels" in Phanerozoic images). It’s also not disputed that the earth is currently warming. The reason for warming may be a surprise to some. We’re coming out of the last ice age, which ended roughly 10,000 years ago. Sea level has slowly been rising as we hopefully continue to come out of this last ice age.

The often-mentioned IPCC reports commonly present partial graphs in their summary reports but surprisingly show the entire graphs within the full report that openly contradict their own summaries. The full graph of warmest temperature by year (Temperature Changes in the United States - Climate Science Special Report ( Figure 6.3) unequivocally displays that from 1900 through the 1950s was warmer than from 1960-current. The graphs presented to media and politicians deceitfully begin in 1960 and exclude the contradictory evidence, which crushes the hysteria of us having never seen temperatures like we currently do. The IPCC has yet to make an accurate prediction since it was formed in 1988. If an employer, friend or spouse lied, misled and was wrong about every hysterical prediction over 33 years, why would anybody trust them?

A chart from NOAA shows the tide gauge from lower Manhattan displaying a very obvious, gentle and constant rise in sea level since the government started keeping records in the 1850s. The rate of sea level rise of 2.87mm/year has been near constant since Abraham Lincoln was president to current — this too is not a crisis.

Let’s look at the Post Glacial period sea level rise from worldwide geologic data over the last 24,000 years. The data clearly displays sea level rising at a fairly constant rate for the last roughly 7,000 years. You find no “Code Red” and no cause for catastrophic alarm when you roll up your sleeves and research. Our instinct when there is a real emergency is to run into a burning building to save a loved one or even a stranger at great peril to ourselves. When politicians, journalists and activists tell us there is an emergency in hopes of molding your beliefs to accommodate their lust for power, do a little darn homework before you choose to believe them.

Jeff Vaughan is a geologist in Bakersfield.