John Abraham, one of Minnesota's most famous climate scientists, has started a legal defense fund for his colleagues who become the target of climage change deniers.

The fund is designed to help scientists like Pennsylvania State University's Michael Mann cope with the legal fees that stack up in fighting attempts by those who dispute their findings to gain access to their emails and other correspondence through lawsuits and Freedom of Information Act requests.

Mother Jones' Blue Marble blog has followed the issue.

John Abraham. Star Tribune photo.

Mann's personal legal fees are expected to run $10,000, which led Scott Mandia, a professor of physical sciences at New York's Suffolk Community College, and Abraham, a professor of engineering at the University of St. Thomas, to launch the defense fund.

Mann, who developed the famous iconic hockey stick graphic showing the increase in global temperatures, has long been a target of climate deniers. Last month, he was cleared of yet another allegation of misconduct in his climate research, this time by the National Science Foundation.

Abraham said last week that so far they have raised $10,000. "We are working on setting up a more sustainable mechanism so that persons can donate to a long-term legal-defense fund that will support not only Dr. Mann but also other scientists who are targeted by these organizations," Abraham said in an email last week.

Abraham has always been at the forefront of the climate change fracas. In 2009 he sparked an internet sensation when he took apart the arguments of a famous climate change denier, Lord Christopher Monckton, who gave a talk at Bethel University in Arden Hills. Last year Abraham launched a "ready response team" website to quickly connect the news media to about 50 national experts on everything from polar bears to flooding in Pakistan to the influence of sun spots on the Earth's temperature.