"I think it's an inexact science, and there has been more and more questioning about some of the conclusions that were reached concerning climate change. And I believe that everybody in the world deserves correct answers whether the scientific conclusions were flawed by outside influences."

--Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)

Among the biggest stories of 2011 was the spate of wildfires that swept across the Western U.S., with few states hit harder than Arizona -- the Wallow fire, which burned more than 538,000 acres, was the biggest in state history. According to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, the damages from U.S. wildfires in 2011 exceeded $1 billion. Once again, making direct connections between such yearly phenomena and climate change is perilous. Yet climate models agree that as the world gets warmer, the wildfires will worsen across the American Southwest.

Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press
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