High-Level Politics

Al Gore's contention -- that Denver's high altitude caused (to quote the Huffington Post) "Obama's dismal debate performance" -- took me by surprise.

I have occasionally had to do hard work at such altitudes, and have frequently flown in commercial airplanes at much higher cabin altitudes, without ill effect -- or so I thought!  Perhaps I, and millions of other businessmen, have been working away on our computers during extended plane flights, unaware that our brains were malfunctioning.  This widespread calamity could have helped to cause our extended recession.

Alarmed, I consulted Wikipedia and learned the following:

In some individuals, particularly those with heart or lung disease, symptoms may begin as low as 5,000 feet (1,500 m), although most passengers can tolerate altitudes of 8,000 feet (2,400 m) without ill effect. At this altitude, there is about 25% less oxygen than there is at sea level. ...

The cabin altitude of an aircraft planning to cruise at 40,000 ft. (12,000 m) is programmed to rise gradually from the altitude of the airport of origin to around a maximum of 8,000 ft (2,400 m) and to then reduce gently during descent until it matches the ambient air pressure of the destination. ...

Keeping the cabin altitude below 8,000 ft (2,400 m) generally avoids significant hypoxia, altitude sickness, decompression sickness, and barotrauma.

Unless Mr. Obama has been hiding the fact that he is seriously ill, Denver's mile-high altitude provides no excuse for his dismal debate performance*.

Mr. Gore's statement seems to demonstrate that either (a) his grasp of science is shaky and unreliable or (b) he is willing to grasp at scientific straws and then bend and twist them into fanciful shapes so as to seem to prove whatever he wants to prove.  This should make us think twice about his contentions concerning climate change.


*  I have been told that, at altitudes below 15,000 feet, the symptoms of altitude sickness do not occur immediately, but only after several days.  One would thus infer that Mr. Romney should have been the primary sufferer.  But I have not checked this point.