Some groups hot, some not

  If membership figures are any indication, the 1990s will be a lot tougher for many environmental groups than the 1980s. Traditional heavyweights like The Wilderness Society, the National Audubon Society, the Sierra Club and The National Wildlife Federation have experienced significant drops in membership since 1990. Membership at The Wilderness Society, for instance, dropped from 404,000 in 1990, to just 300,000 in 1993, while Greenpeace USA's membership plummeted from 2.5 million to 1.7 million during the same period, reports The Economist. Some groups are faring well, however. The memberships of the Environmental Defense Fund, The Nature Conservancy and The Natural Resources Defense Council continue to grow. NRDC's membership, for instance, rose from 138,000 in 1990 to 170,000 in 1993. Why the apparent schism between the broad-ranging activist organizations and more narrowly defined groups? Analysts at The Economist say the lack of a clear enemy in the White House and the growth of local environmental groups may be having an effect.