You guys have that "golf" oil thread wound up pretty tight - hate to be a thread breaker, so I'll start this new post.
Imagine this gloomy scenario (highly unlikely, but just think for a moment)...
What if the oil well in the gulf can't be stopped? No matter what is tried, the oil just keeps coming up. Imagine the methane hydrates start breaking loose and floating to the top. Imagine the oil on the surface getting thicker and foamy (perhaps due to a recent hurricane), washing up onto every shore in the gulf - Mexico declares an environmental disaster and points the finger at the US as being the one responsible for cleanup of its entire shoreline. Cancun is a wasteland, environmental disaster turns into a economic nightmare. Imagine this getting so out of hand that the fumes from this oil are now too much (and unsafe) and it's impossible to sail anything into the gulf for containment attempts.
The oil completely covers the entire gulf of Mexico and is now working its way around and up Florida's eastern coastline, following ocean currents. In a desperate act, the UN and other great nations volunteer to help try to block the potential for this being a global disaster by setting up huge oil containment booms across the stretch from Florida to Cuba, and from Cuba across to Mexico to try and keep the oil in the gulf waters. The oil is successfully barricaded.
This global effort is cheered on by the international/global community.
All is well, until a freak storm from the west-south-west brings with it a lightning storm into the gulf. The oil is ignited in several spots and cannot be contained. Thick, black, toxic smoke pours into the atmosphere choking out the sunlight, stopping air travel, and completely poisoning Earth's atmosphere. Mankind now realizes the err of his ways.
All land- and air-based life is finished within a decade. All sea-based life is exterminated within the century. There is no year 2100.
I wonder if anyone at BP (or Sarah Palin) ever thought this far ahead.
Is this story likely to happen this time? No.
Is it possible for a future to unfold like this? Yes.