It is, as they say, Christmas time in the city and that means tree lightings and ceremonial celebrations with songs, bright lights and lots of cheer.

The National Christmas Tree will be lit this afternoon, officially marking the beginning of the Christmas season in the Nation's Capitol. Ceremonies were held last night in New York City as the tree at Rockefeller Plaza was illuminated. New Bedford's official Christmas tree will be lit on Saturday.

Coverage of these events got me thinking about whether destroying a decades old evergreen in order to place it on display in a city center for a few weeks is really Earth-friendly. I love the Christmas season with all of the symbolism that comes with it, but listening to the climate alarmists and their concerns about rising oceans and displaced polar bears, I just wonder if there is another way to do this.

The 75 foot-tall, 12 ton Norway spruce that stands buried under 50,000 multi-colored lights at Rockefeller Center was hauled all the way there from State College, Pennsylvania.  The Rockefeller Center tree lighting is a tradition dating back more that 8 decades.

The Capitol Christmas Tree, a 75-foot tall Engelmann Spruce plucked from Montana's Kootenal National Forest was trucked more than 3,000 miles on a flatbed to the front lawn of the U.S. Capitol. It will be lit during ceremonies planned for December 6th.

The environmentalists tell us trees like these are needed to scrub the bad stuff out of the air, yet we kill them for decorative purposes. And think of the carbon footprint from hauling these things all over tarnation on the back of a truck!

New Bedford's tree, a 40 foot-tall pine was located after a lengthy search in Freetown. After a few tense moments, it was delivered and installed on the front steps of the New Bedford Public Library. Tree lighting ceremonies are planned for 4 pm on Saturday, December 2nd.

Perhaps the best solution to all of this tree killing is what they did in Washington, D.C. some years ago. In 1978, a live 40-foot Colorado blue spruce was transplanted from York, Pennsylvania to the Ellipse - a grassy area just south of the White House. Prior to 1978, the National Christmas Tree had been trucked in each year since the tradition began in 1923. In 1954, a "Pathway of Peace," 56 smaller, decorated trees representing all 50 states, five territories, and the District of Columbia were planted surrounds The National Christmas Tree.

The Lighting of The National Christmas Tree takes place at 4:30 pm today, and will be broadcasted on television, complete with performances and fanfare on December 4th.

New Bedford has gained quite a reputation in recent years as a green city. So, maybe it's time to think of a more permanent plan for the annual Christmas tree lighting. The concept of a live-tree seems like the best approach, but obviously a permanent tree on the front steps of the library might not be a workable solution. Perhaps the city's official tree could be located somewhere other than downtown, and the library steps could just be decorated with lights and festive ornaments instead?

What say we start a new tradition and rather than cutting down a giant tree each Christmas we plant a new one instead.

What do you think?

Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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