Overpeck gave the Bjerknes Lecture at AGU, modestly entitled “Anticipating the Big Impacts of Anthropogenic Carbon Dioxide Increases”. It was in the largest forum — about 1000 people were there. The room was filled to overflowing and you simply could not get in if you were late.
From his website, Overpeck seems to be about 50, but he is youthful looking. A full crop of hair undoubtedly helps here. He had a young child (toddler) with him at the conference. He has been proposed as the most likely person to have uttered the phrase “We have to get rid of the MWP” and Overpeck et al  was one of the early entries in the multiproxy endeavour.
At the U.S. Climate Change Science Program meeting which I attended a few weeks ago, some of the sessions complained that people didn’t really care very much about a degree or two of temperature. However, they did care about drought and sea level. So there seemed to be a growing view that achieving climate policy objectives in the U.S. meant connecting with people on these issues that they cared about.
It’s hard not to conclude that Overpeck was attuned to the market and giving them what they wanted. You want sea level — Overpeck had sea level. You want drought — Overpeck had that too. Bob Carter described the session as being like being at an evangelist’s meeting. It hardly seems coincidental that the hot-button issues should have featured so dramatically.
I missed the first part of his talk on sea level but heard it mentioned in the summary, where Overpeck talked about a 6 meter possible rise. I did hear the section on drought.
Curiously, his talk was spent mostly on discussions of past droughts as determined by tree ring records. Overpeck referred to studies by Cook et al (which I’ve discussed briefly here) and by Hirschboek showing that past droughts in the U.S. West were far greater than anything experienced in recent history — none of this “wimpy” [his word] 20th and 21st century stuff. In the 1200s, there was a 50 year drought. He pointed out that the 20th century was a “pluvial” and that water allocation in the 1920s was in one of the wettest decades in the tree ring records. He mentioned the following link
The hook to global warming was that global warming would make such droughts even worse — a “super interglacial drought” or even a “global change-type drought”.
I guess that even evangelists sometimes have their moments of reflectiveness. Overpeck concluded the speech to his adoring audience by saying somewhat disarmingly: “You didn’t really believe everything that I said, did you?” I thought that it was a good question, but no one else seemed to notice.