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Story Publication logo July 11, 2018

God, Oil, and Peru's Boiling River

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"The boiling river, anciently named "Shanay-timpishka" meaning, "boiled from the heat of the sun," slithers four miles in length through the Peruvian rainforest." Image by Natalie Hutchison. Peru, 2017.
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Three hours from the nearest city, in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon, a powerful geothermal...

The boiling river in Peru is one of two geothermal systems in the world not attributed to volcanic activity. Its spiritual value and scientific significance are not legally protected, and the area is now under threat of deforestation and climate change. Image by Natalie Hutchison. Peru, 2017.
The boiling river in Peru is one of two geothermal systems in the world not attributed to volcanic activity. Its spiritual value and scientific significance are not legally protected, and the area is now under threat of deforestation and climate change. Image by Natalie Hutchison. Peru, 2017.

In the sleepy Peruvian jungle lies a geothermal anomaly, thought to be an ancient legend. Proving its life with a roaring presence, the boiling river, named "Shanay Timpishka" is one of two geothermal systems in the world not produced by volcanic activity. To local communities, it is a source of water for cooking, bathing and healing; for science, the organisms it houses could help explain where life came from. As deforestation infringes upon the area and the effects of climate change become more prevalent, the boiling river and its neighboring species are under fire. Natalie Hutchison reports on how this destruction has occurred, and how science and spirituality are working to preserve an exploitable wonder.

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