Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Biotech

1870s Horse Flu Epidemic Brought US Economy To Its Knees 118

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the pegasus-flu dept.
Nemo the Magnificent writes with this excerpt from the University of Arizona: "A new study (paywalled) published in the journal Nature provides the most comprehensive analysis to date of the evolutionary relationships of influenza virus across different host species over time... In the 1870s, an immense horse flu outbreak swept across North America. City by city and town by town, horses got sick and perhaps five percent of them died. Half of Boston burned down during the outbreak, because there were no horses to pull the pump wagons. In the West, the U.S. Cavalry was fighting the Apaches on foot because all the horses were sick... The horse flu outbreak pulled the rug out from under the economy.""
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

1870s Horse Flu Epidemic Brought US Economy To Its Knees

Comments Filter:
  • ICF (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dan East (318230) on Monday February 17, 2014 @11:11PM (#46273049) Homepage Journal

    That's nothing. Just wait until the ICF hits (internal combustion flu). Tesla will be laughing all the way to the bank.

    • by oldhack (1037484)
      What a load of horse shit.
      • Runny, runny horse shit... along with horse vomit and a bunch of whinnying for the horse equivalent of chicken soup...
    • I think that happened during the seventies.

    • Only until electron rabies sweeps the country and make all Teslas drive in reverse only...
    • by evilviper (135110)

      Just wait until the ICF hits (internal combustion flu). Tesla will be laughing all the way to the bank.

      I think it's the other way around... Tesla cars, Boeing jets, and laptops before them have been catching the Lithium Flu. You'll know it when you see it, because it comes with *quite* the high fever...

      Here's one Model S getting some medical attention. [turner.com]

      • by icebike (68054)

        And here's a lowly Chevy getting the sane treatment.

        http://msn.foxsports.com/nasca... [foxsports.com]

        Same disease it turns out.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        I think it's the other way around... Tesla cars, Boeing jets, and laptops before them have been catching the Lithium Flu. You'll know it when you see it, because it comes with *quite* the high fever...

        ...yet, still not quite the same level of fever as the internal combustion flu. And the transmission rate is significantly lower.

    • by mysidia (191772)

      That's nothing. Just wait until the ICF hits (internal combustion flu). Tesla will be laughing all the way to the bank.

      It's called peak oil.... it just got delayed by 10 to 20 years, perhaps, due to the introduction of fracking.

      When gasoline is no longer available due to global or local resource shortages, or prices --- the same could occur again.

      It may be even worse, since the petroleum products are not merely used to fuel our vehicles, BUT they are also required to produce fertilizers, so our farm

      • by dbIII (701233) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @02:51AM (#46273883)

        It's called peak oil.... it just got delayed by 10 to 20 years, perhaps, due to the introduction of fracking.

        Don't use technical terms unless you know their meaning. Peak oil looks like it happened in 2008 because it's the maximum point on the graph of crude oil extraction over time. Gas from shale, coal, whatever is something else.
        The term "peak oil" acquired a lot of baggage from people who liked to oversimplify things and pretend that crude oil was the only form of energy. The post above is a good example of being influenced by that baggage.

        • by mysidia (191772)

          Peak oil looks like it happened in 2008 because it's the maximum point on the graph of crude oil extraction over time. Gas from shale, coal, whatever is something else.

          NO. Peak oil refers to M. King Hubbert's theory [youtube.com] about a bell-shaped pattern, and it is inclusive of all fossil fuels.

          • A video as citation? That's a bit insulting if you expect me to take you seriously.
            Note it's called peak oil and the likely peak of coal production is probably many decades away.
            • by mysidia (191772)

              A video as citation? That's a bit insulting if you expect me to take you seriously.

              The medium doesn't matter. It's perfectly valid, notwithstanding your elitist high-horse act. I think what you find insulting, is that the authorities don't share your highly narrow idea as to what the concept of peak oil refers to.

              Note it's called peak oil and the likely peak of coal production is probably many decades away.

              Yes. But 'oil' does not mean crude oil; it means all the oil products, which include gas

              • by dbIII (701233)

                notwithstanding your elitist high-horse act

                Ah yes, the tyranny of the "elites" with their book reading instead of picking up random unconnected bits of shit and connecting them the wrong way in between watching music videos.
                WTF is it with these people who get the wrong idea and then decide to lecture others about it before they come close to understanding it themselves?

              • Let me remind you that you had " it is inclusive of all fossil fuels" of all fossil fuels in the above attempt at petty lecturing. I wonder if you are going to shift your definition every time I point out a stunningly obvious flaw in your silly personal definition such as coal being a fossil fuel.
                As for me - I'll go with what the geophysicists call it instead of your gut feeling.
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        We already know how to make biofuels which are 1:1 replacements for gasoline. The most notable is butanol, which Gevo and Butamax are fighting over the rights to produce. Except only Gevo is actually trying to sell fuel, and Butamax's patent was produced at a public university. That to me makes Butamax no better than patent trolls.

      • by swb (14022)

        Every time I hear about peak oil as a concept it gets turned into the idea we'll just run out, all at once.

        Why won't the pricing mechanism of markets just raise the price over time and slow consumption, or increase the use of alternatives where they exist, increase research into improving or finding new alternatives? It will also affect choices, so as food prices increase because of fertilizer price increases people will choose food over, say, power boats.

        Fracking is kind of the great example as well. AFA

        • Every time I hear about peak oil as a concept it gets turned into the idea we'll just run out, all at once.

          Why won't the pricing mechanism of markets just raise the price over time and slow consumption, or increase the use of alternatives where they exist, increase research into improving or finding new alternatives? It will also affect choices, so as food prices increase because of fertilizer price increases people will choose food over, say, power boats.

          Fracking is kind of the great example as well. AFAIK it was a known technique but not economically viable. As prices increased it was improved as a process and put into use because it was more economically viable at higher price levels.

          I have read some arguments that claim significant economic disruption as oil prices cross a certain threshold creating an amplification effect. I think one example is the use of trucks for transportation -- the cost of shipping increases it makes other activities dependent on trucking not economically viable as the transportation costs exceed the marginal value of the thing being transported. I buy this, sort of, but it doesn't take into account the adaptation of the use of localized production or alternative products being used.

          Overall I buy the idea that oil is a limited resource, but find the predictions of its increasing scarcity a lot less due to the complexity and sophistication of economies.

          That's hard to say because nothing is ever as simple as it ought to be. Pricing could slowly rise, but markets are often more likely to stampede. We could have alternative energy sources (and fertilizer sources) ready to roll, but the current energy barons don't want to risk the possibility that someone else could get rich instead of them and don't want cheaper energy as long as they can make more from oil. So alternative approaches are ignored, locked up, even suppressed in favor of more toxic (but more pr

          • by swb (14022)

            But isn't the history of oil consumption a de facto demonstration of pricing? As demand increases, prices increase and production technology improves? The 1970s brought off-shore and deep water oil production, followed by increasingly more fuel efficient cars (as one example).

            Contemporary pricing has given us hybrid and viable electric cars. Fracking and tar sands have extended oil production. Even trucking has gotten aerodynamic.

            • But isn't the history of oil consumption a de facto demonstration of pricing? As demand increases, prices increase and production technology improves? The 1970s brought off-shore and deep water oil production, followed by increasingly more fuel efficient cars (as one example).

              Contemporary pricing has given us hybrid and viable electric cars. Fracking and tar sands have extended oil production. Even trucking has gotten aerodynamic.

              It also brought us the Energy Crisis.

              I'm not saying that adjustments don't occur. Just that market trends carry an immense amount of momentum. Boom-and-bust are by no means unique to the energy industry. Recent events in the housing industry are another example. But it's not like people didn't see things coming. Remember "irrational exuberance"? Just that too often we swing from one extreme to the other. People get hurt that way.

    • How long before a software virus cripples a good amount of cars and brings "transportation to a halt"?

    • ...or a computer flu that cripples 5% of the worlds servers. That would have quite an impact too.
  • by bondsbw (888959) on Monday February 17, 2014 @11:20PM (#46273091)

    But I bet a little war during the previous decade had a bit more to do with the economic issues of the time.

    • by hey! (33014)

      I'd take that bet.

      If you were talking about slow economic growth immediately after the war, I'd agree that the war would be a plausible contributing factor. But I don't see how a war that ends in 1865 causes a *crash* in 1873.

    • by cold fjord (826450) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @01:46AM (#46273681)

      The picture was pretty complex as it turns out - there was a lot going on. But I wouldn't be surprised that the flu outbreak could have had a major impact. The economy was horse driven at the time. Imagine if cars could catch the flu and you couldn't drive them, or they even "died." That could be very disruptive to many sectors of the economy.

      The Long Depression (1873-1878) [socialwelfarehistory.com]

      The period following the Civil War in the United States from 1865-1873 is generally considered one of economic prosperity. Northern owners of industry and bankers had become wealthy in the war, while cotton exports in the south within the U.S. and abroad met the growing demands of foreign manufacturing for raw materials. In addition to a developing of manufacturing at home and abroad, technological innovations led to improvements in mining, agriculture, and infrastructure.

      The Economic Costs of the Civil War [fee.org]

      The first and most important point is that the Civil War was expensive. In 1860 the U.S. national debt was $65 million. To put that in perspective, the national debt in 1789, the year George Washington took office, was $77 million. In other words, from 1789 to 1860, the United States spanned the continent, fought two major wars, and began its industrial growth—all the while reducing its national debt.

      We had limited government, few federal expenses, and low taxes. In 1860, on the eve of war, almost all federal revenue derived from the tariff. We had no income tax, no estate tax, and no excise taxes. Even the hated whiskey tax was gone. We had seemingly fulfilled Thomas Jefferson’s vision: “What farmer, what mechanic, what laborer ever sees a tax-gatherer of the United States?”

      Four years of civil war changed all that forever. In 1865 the national debt stood at $2.7 billion. Just the annual interest on that debt was more than twice our entire national budget in 1860. In fact, that Civil War debt is almost twice what the federal government spent before 1860.

      What’s worse, Jefferson’s vision had become a nightmare. The United States had a progressive income tax, an estate tax, and excise taxes as well. The revenue department had greatly expanded, and tax-gatherers were a big part of the federal bureaucracy.

      Furthermore, our currency was tainted. The Union government had issued more than $430 million in paper money (greenbacks) and demanded it be legal tender for all debts. No gold backed the notes.

    • by westlake (615356) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @01:50AM (#46273699)

      But I bet a little war during the previous decade had a bit more to do with the economic issues of the time.

      Not as much as you might think.

      The country was 50% urban by census definition in 1860. Northern industry, agriculture and transportation prospered mightily during and after the war. The South no longer had a veto over economic development.

      Cotton production in the South recovered rapidly. COTTON PRODUCTION FACTS STATISTICS OF THE YIELD FOR TWENTY YEARS.; STATISTICS OF THE YIELD FOR TWENTY YEARS. [nytimes.com] 1850-1880

    • The epidemic happened in 1872. Milton Friedman's book [amazon.com] puts that right in the middle of a period of economic growth that would last a few years longer. So basically, you're right.

      I'm not sure why the summary thinks "the US economy was brought to its knees." Nowhere in the article does it say what data they are using. So I'm not sure it had such a huge impact. People still found ways to carry their goods to market, still found ways to fight Indians.
      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        I'm not sure why the summary thinks "the US economy was brought to its knees." Nowhere in the article does it say what data they are using.

        You never heard of the Panic of 1873 [wikipedia.org] or the Long Depression? [wikipedia.org]

        The Panic of 1873 and the subsequent depression had several underlying causes, of which economic historians debate the relative importance. Post-war inflation, rampant speculative investments (overwhelmingly in railroads), a large trade deficit, ripples from economic dislocation in Europe resulting from the Fra

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The horses are sick, Boston's on fire, we'll fight those Apaches anyway!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's not true if it doesn't exist in any cowboy movies.

    • It's not true if it doesn't exist in any cowboy movies.

      That's a fair point. I don't recall ever hearing of any cowboy movies featuring plagues or epidemics as part of the movie even if individuals became sick. Of course there were a number of them in history, such a small pox, etc. The flu epidemic is one I don't recall hearing about before though. It should make for some interesting follow up reading.

      • by hey! (33014) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @12:19AM (#46273371) Homepage Journal

        You don't see any war movies which feature epidemics, either, even though infectious disease has killed more soldiers in war than battle wounds.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        There's "The Way West" starring Kirk Douglas where smallpox is a plot point and much more recently there's the miniseries "Broken Trail" starring Robert Duvall where in one scene he kills a man whose line of work is selling smallpox-exposed blankets to indians. IIRC smallpox is in "Little Big Man" as well.
      • That's a fair point. I don't recall ever hearing of any cowboy movies featuring plagues or epidemics as part of the movie even if individuals became sick.

        I"m pretty sure that Westerns like Big Valley featured epidemics at some point.

      • by AvitarX (172628)

        Both deadwood, and the far cheesier Hell on Wheels featured small pox.

        I'd go as far to say that small pox in western themed serials is cliche, you know it's going to be the running story as soon as someone coughs.

        Not as much in movies, I assume because unless it's the main point of a movie there's not much space for it.

      • by milage (881680)
        Hud [wikipedia.org] featured foot-and-mouth disease
  • by QilessQi (2044624) on Monday February 17, 2014 @11:51PM (#46273239)

    Folks at the time called it the Great Epizootic* of 1872: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E... [wikipedia.org] . In cities where it hit hardest, men were reportedly pulling carts in the streets because of the shortage of horses.

    *pronouced ep-eh-zoo-AH-tick

    • Thanks for the link. Very interesting.

  • ...for cars to have a kill chip?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "Half of Boston burned down during the outbreak, because there were no horses to pull fire engines, hose reels, and ladder carts. In the West, the U.S. Cavalry was fighting the Apaches on foot because their horses were sick."

  • by oldhack (1037484)

    Centuries of horse shit spewing methane into the atmosphere brought about Equine Global Warming, leading to the flu epidemic.

    If only we had Al Gore back then...

    • Re:EGW (Score:4, Informative)

      by u38cg (607297) <calum@callingthetune.co.uk> on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @04:43AM (#46274099) Homepage
      Actually, horses have a single stomach and produce minimal, if any, methane.
      • by 2sheds (78194)
        Horses may be monogastric but they have caeca, i.e. a highly developed hind-gut fermentation system. Although they don't need to and indeed cannot eructate (the main source of methane emissions in cattle), they still contribute their fair share. And don't forget decomposition products from manure. The best thing you can say about any form of agricultural methane emission is that the animals involved are on a relatively short carbon cycle - they release carbon that has only recently been fixed from the atmos
        • by u38cg (607297)
          Had to go and look it up. More than I thought - about a third of a cow. But on the other hand, there are at least an order of magnitude more cows out there.
  • If it's behind a paywall, it didn't happen.
  • Poor US Calvalry (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wisnoskij (1206448) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @12:56AM (#46273497) Homepage

    Committing genocide on foot is tiring work.

    • by S.I.O. (180787)

      Thankfully, they were unpatched Apache, so it was easy to find their weak spot.

      • Thankfully, they were unpatched Apache, so it was easy to find their weak spot.

        Yes, IIS may have won the west, but thanks in part to its susceptibility to virus, the Apache came back to dominate the world.

    • We should Sioux them.
  • The Silicon Spotted Fever Epidemic of 2017 is gonna be a bear ...
  • Ah, remember it like it were yesterday. The ride through at the McDonald's was deserted for years.
  • and that really impacted the economy.
  • by alta (1263)

    Some of you guys are joking about a car virus, but it's not a stretch of the imagination at all.

    15 years ago that couldn't happen, but now cars have built in cellular data. Some have built in hotspots. Not just high end cars but cheap cars can get on facebook now either through dedicated cellular data or tethering off your phone. We saw just a few weeks ago that they're trying to make cars that talk to each other for 'safety' reasons. Once they can do that a car to car virus is even easier.

In any formula, constants (especially those obtained from handbooks) are to be treated as variables.

Working...