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The level of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere has hit a record high according to new data from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Average levels of carbon dioxide had risen to about 376 parts per million (ppm) for 2003, representing a steady annual increase of 2.5 ppm over the two previous years.

One suggestion is that economic development in China and India, with resultant increases in fuel use, could be a key factor in the raised carbon dioxide levels.

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