How better broadband access in rural areas could help the planet » Yale Climate Connections


Technology has come a long way since dial-up internet first allowed people to get online. Today, most U.S. residents have access to high-speed internet. But some rural residents are being left behind.

Kaelke: “The best way to characterize broadband access in rural regions is that it’s spotty. There’s areas that have very good access and others that have almost none.”

Mark Kaelke is with the West Central Initiative, a community foundation that serves nine counties in west-central Minnesota.

His group advocates for better access to broadband internet in the region. He says broadband could benefit people and the climate.

That’s because rural residents often commute a long distance to go to work, visit the doctor, or spend time with friends. And all that driving emits carbon pollution.

Kaelke: “Our region, because of the distances between communities and services, we have a very high vehicle miles traveled rate.”

With reliable high-speed internet, more residents could take advantage of telehealth appointments and remote work opportunities.

So Kaelke says improving access to broadband internet in rural areas could help reduce carbon pollution from vehicles and improve people’s quality of life.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media


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