He was born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, in 1931, his father having lost his life in an air accident a few months previously. He was raised by his mother, a schoolmistress with an interest in classical history, which her son inherited. He went to Princeton University in 1949 to study Arabic, but by chance in the library came upon books on geology that interested him. In this way he became aware of the work of M.K.Hubbert on Peak Oil. He enjoyed athletics and was a champion runner, taking part in international competitions, including one at Oxford to which he won a scholarship in 1954 to study Arabic and Persian. In 1957, he joined a major oil company in New York to work in the planning department, where he raised the issue of Peak Oil. He was then transferred to Manchester in England to work in marketing before being assigned to deal with a difficult situation in northern Nigeria. It proved to be a very colourful and instructive experience, after which he was recalled to the head office in New York, with responsibilities for Middle East operations. He then accepted an offer to join an investment company, which gave him a chance to study the wider issues and implications arising from the oil shocks of the 1970s, becoming fully aware of Peak Oil. In 1997, he retired from Wall Street, but has continued to work in the investment field in an advisory capacity, specialising in oil.
By 2015, my research work suggests, the world will enter a plateau of hydrocarbon liquids production that will endure four to five years and then begin to slip inexorably into a long declining trend.