Oliver has worked in the non-life insurance industry since graduating with a degree in Chemistry in 1989. He is a fellow of the Chartered Insurance Institute and the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries. He has had a variety of roles, including claims handling, underwriting and reinsurance consulting. Since 2001 he has worked as an insurance actuary, and since 2006 he has worked as a pricing actuary, pricing large single risks.
In 2007 he developed an interest in climate change, following pricing some insurance business that was exposed to climate change risk. In March 2009 he co-presented at a session at the Climate Congress in Copenhagen. He has attended various seminars and conferences on climate change and has given several talks on this subject and related issues. In June 2010 he attended a conference organised by the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE). He believes that in a finite world with environmental and energy constraints, economic growth is not compatible with sustainability or stability. For rich nations, the primary economic goal should be stability
The sensitivity of the Earth's climate to greenhouse gas. Paleoclimate derived estimates, such as that provided by James Hansen, indicate a much higher sensitivity than that estimated by climate models.
Peak oil and the energy crunch. The degree to which energy is linked to economic growth. Jevons paradox and the rebound effect of efficiency gains. Other resource constraints, for example, phosphorus depletion.
The physical limits to the global economy - the "Limits to Growth", as first identified by the seminal study in 1972. The systems science approach used in the limits to growth study which provides a unified and simplified way to understand the world.
Ecological economics - economics which addresses the deficiencies of neo-classical economics e.g. incorporates the second law of thermodynamics and allows for the fact that the economy is a complex, non-linear system far from equilibrium, which requires a throughput of energy as a master resource.
The psychology of sustainability issues: for example, cognitive dissonance, anchoring, assimilation bias, confirmation bias, the neuropyschology of decision-making.