When sh*t hits the fan, it’s challenging to keep up with the facts. The internet’s information overload can be overwhelming, plus we’re all a little distracted with, you know, a global pandemic.

Amidst breaking news stories of city’s on lockdown, COVID-19 cases rising and medical supplies dwindling, there are feel-good stories and Tiger King memes to get us through. Feel-good stories like the ones claiming swans and dolphins had returned to Venice’s now crystal clear canals went viral, but they weren’t true.

The viral post of the swans was debunked and geolocated to Burano, a small island near Venice where swans regularly frequent. The video of the dolphins was actually taken on the island of Sardinia several hundred kilometres from Venice. 

Before we get down in the dumps, there is some good, true news. The canals are clearer due to decreased boat activity and industry. Scientists have also detected huge drops in global air pollution, a result of less emissions from factories and traffic in a stalled economy. Satellite imagery from NASA and the European Space Agency have shown major decreases in nitrogen dioxide levels – the stuff that comes out of car engines and power plants.

The better air quality, a surprise side effect of COVID-19 (the irony), has given us a glimpse at what a lower carbon future could look like. Let's just hope it doesn’t turn out like the dolphins swimming in Venice’s canals – too good to be true. 


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