Discourses and practices of anticipation occupy a hypertrophic
space in contexts where uncontrolled industrial growth has inflicted grave
damage on peoples and territories, even triggering environmental disasters.
This article explores the use of nonhuman species as anticipatory devices in
a petrochemical terminal in Sicily, focusing on public representations of three
species: scavenger bacteria that play a cleansing role and underline citizens’
moral responsibility to secure their best possible futures through bioscience;
migrating flamingos that breed under the petrochemical chimneys, raising
the possibility of hopefulness by highlighting ecosystem resilience; and fish
affected by spina bifida, which reveal human health status in advance, communicating
the need to live in preparation for potential diseases. The analysis
reveals the highly contentious character of these anticipatory devices and the
contested ideas about possible futures they imply, thus shedding light on the
ecological frictions that have repercussions locally and globally, in discourse
and social practice.